News

Mourners, civil rights leaders attend funeral of slain Missouri teen

Mourners, civil rights leaders attend funeral of slain Missouri teen

FERGUSON: Lesley McSpadden, mother of Michael Brown, wipes a tear as she stands by his casket at his the funeral at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis, Monday, Aug. 25. Hundreds of people are gathered to say goodbye to Brown, who was shot and killed by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer on Aug. 9. The more than two weeks since Michael Brown's death have been marked by nightly protests, some violent and chaotic, although tensions have eased in recent days. Photo: Associated Press/Richard Perry

By Edward McAllister and Nick Carey

ST. LOUIS (Reuters) – Mourners sang, clapped and danced on Monday at funeral services for Michael Brown, remembering the slain black teenager with words of goodwill and joy rather than the violence and outrage that followed his killing by a white police officer.

Brown’s body lay at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in a black and gold casket, topped with the St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap he was wearing when he was killed on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Missouri.

As hundreds of people filed into the modern red-brick church on Dr. Martin Luther King Drive in St. Louis, Brown’s coffin was surrounded by photos of him as a child, graduating from school and smiling in his Cardinals cap.

“There are no goodbyes for us, wherever you are you will always be in our hearts,” read a sign accompanying one of the photos.

Gospel music filled the sanctuary as hundreds of people stood inside the church, many dancing, singing and clapping.

Outside, gatherers sang the civil rights hymn “We Shall Overcome,” in a scene markedly different from the violent protests that rocked the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson after Brown was shot to death on Aug. 9.

APPEAL FOR CALM

Brown’s father made an appeal for calm on the eve of the services.

“All I want tomorrow is peace while we lay our son to rest,” Michael Brown, Sr. said at a Sunday rally against police violence that he led with civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton.

“Please, that’s all I ask,” he told the crowd of hundreds that gathered on Sunday, including the parents of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager shot dead by a neighborhood watch volunteer in 2012.

Like the Martin shooting, Brown’s killing has focused attention on racial tension and relations in the United States. The Ferguson protests also evoked criticism of the local police force’s use of military gear and heavy-handed tactics.

Around the church on Monday, the police presence was heavy but relaxed. Authorities have braced for a possible flare-up, although clashes between protesters and police have waned significantly in recent days.

The National Guard, brought in at the request of the governor to help quell the Ferguson unrest, has begun a gradual withdrawal.

Among the hundreds of people waiting outside the church was Travis Jackson, a black, 25-year-old retail store employee who said he took the day off from work to pay his respects.

“I had to be here. After all the emotions and pain of the past two weeks, this is an important moment for this community,” he said.

“Today I am focused on peace for Michael Brown. Tomorrow I can think about justice,” he added.

In addition to Sharpton, civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson was also on hand for the funeral. The White House said it was sending three presidential aides to attend the service.

A grand jury began hearing evidence on Wednesday, a process the county prosecutor said could take until mid-October.

(Writing by Ellen Wulfhorst; editing by Jonathan Oatis, G Crosse)

Recent Headlines

17 hours ago in National

Trump looks to unify Republicans; Kasich reported dropping out

17-overlay

Billionaire Donald Trump assumed the mantle of presumptive Republican presidential nominee on Wednesday with a message on unity that also suggested he was not going to work too hard to placate some party establishment figures angered by his outsider candidacy.

20 hours ago in National

Takata recalls millions more air bag inflators

takata16125303396828

Automakers will recall up to 40 million more air bag inflators installed by Takata Corp by 2019, expanding the largest automotive recall in American history.

21 hours ago in Sports

Deflategate: Brady gets more time

tombrady276076991807

Lawyers for the New England Patriots quarterback have been given another two weeks to appeal his "Deflategate" suspension.

21 hours ago in Sports

Kentucky Bourbon Trail offers a lesson for reviving racing’s fans

derby16124571363511

Some of the best-known farms in Kentucky's scenic horse country are borrowing from another of the state's contributions to the good life — bourbon whiskey distilleries — in an effort to win new recruits to an aging and shrinking fan base.

21 hours ago in National

School safety: Drops in bullying, violent crime on campus

schoolsafety16124794280762

The latest government snapshot of school crime paints a picture of safer schools, with declines in violent crime, bullying and harassment because of sexual orientation.