1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Michael Brown funeral

August 25, 2014

Civil rights leaders have joined the family of slain black Missouri teen Michael Brown for his funeral. His death at the hands of a white police officer unleashed days of unrest in his home town of Ferguson.

Scene inside church at funeral Michael Brown at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis, Missouri, August 25, 2014. REUTERS/Richard Perry/Pool
Image: Reuters

Thousands of mourners attended the funeral service on Monday for Michael Brown, the black teenager whose killing by a white policeman earlier this month triggered days of sometimes violent protests and a renewed national debate on racial discrimination within the American justice system.

Many of those at the service expressed the wish that Brown be remembered not with violence, but with peace.

"We must resist the temptation to riot and loot in our neigborhood. It only gives a bad picture for the world," one member of the clergy said.

Among those attending were the parents of Trayvon Martin, a black Florida teenager shot dead by a neighborhood watch volunteer in 2012.

Martin's shooting, like that of Brown, focused attention on racial tension and relations in the United States.

Ahead of the funeral, large lines formed outside the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis in the US state of Missouri. Some sang the civil rights hymn "We Shall Overcome" as they gathered in front of the church, which seats some 5,000 people.

However, the gathering remained peaceful, in strong contrast to the violent protests that occurred in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson after Brown, 18, was shot dead on August 9.

Father's call for calm

At a rally against police violence on the eve of the service, the father of the victim, Michael Brown Sr., appealed for calm, saying that the family wanted peace as they laid the teenager to rest.

The rally was led by Michael Brown Sr. and civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton, who also attended Monday's service along with another leading figure in the civil rights movement, Jesse Jackson.

After the funeral service, Brown was to be buried in a city cemetery in a private ceremony.

Differing accounts

Brown was shot by 28-year-old white policeman Darren Wilson at least six times while walking down the street after leaving a convenience store. Police alleged Brown tried to seize Wilson's gun, but witnesses, including a friend of Brown's walking with him, said the victim had held his hands above his head in a clear sign of surrender.

Police later said that Brown was suspected of having stolen a box of cigars in the store, but that Wilson was unaware of this at the time of the shooting. Brown's family later condemned the revelation of the alleged theft as an effort to smear their son's character.

Wilson is on paid leave, while a grand jury is St. Louis decides whether to bring charges against him. The process could take until mid-October, a county prosecutor said.

Disproportionate reaction?

The shooting triggered days of violent protests, during which police used assault rifles, stun grenades and body armor to disperse crowds, while the National Guard was called in to help.

The measures employed by security forces drew criticism of an overly militarized and aggressive approach.

US President Barack Obama has ordered a review of federal programs selling military hardware to local police.

tj/ng (AFP, Reuters)