Michael Brown's Funeral Unites Family, Activists, Mourners
'All I want is peace while my son is being laid to rest' — Michael Brown, Sr.
As activists and mourners in Ferguson, Missouri prepared for Michael Brown's funeral on Monday, his father, Michael Brown, Sr., asked the community to suspend its protests for the day to ensure a peaceful procession.
"All I want is peace while my son is being laid to rest," Brown told the crowd during a rally on Sunday at a St. Louis church. "Can you please, please, take a day of silence so we can lay our son to rest? Please. It’s all I ask."
Michael Brown died on August 9th after Officer Darren Wilson shot the unarmed teenager at least six times. His death, and the Ferguson police department's subsequent mishandling of the investigation, including withholding Wilson's name from the public for almost a week, set off weeks of protests in the majority-black community, where residents marched against police brutality and demanded justice for Brown. The St. Louis County police department's excessive response to the marches, including violent arrests and the use of assault weapons and tear gas on unarmed protesters and reporters, brought international attention to Ferguson and the larger issue of police militarization, culminating with the Missouri Highway Patrol and the National Guard taking over policing in the town and the FBI launching its own separate investigation into Brown's death.
Brown Sr. said he wants the demonstrations to pause for the day of Michael's funeral. "We need a moment of silence on our son," Brown Sr. said. "We need peace on his going-away."
Among those who are expected to attend Brown's memorial service on Monday are Rev. Al Sharpton, Trayvon Martin's parents and Martin Luther King Jr.'s son and daughter, as well as prominent celebrities such as Snoop Dogg and Sean "P Diddy" Combs. Other artists, including Killer Mike, Talib Kweli, and St. Louis native Nelly, have also taken part in the protests.
Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, told NBC News that the hardest moment for her will be at the end of the funeral, "walking away from that casket." She and Brown Sr. visited the funeral home Sunday afternoon for a private moment with their son.
"I looked at him. I talked to him. I touched him," McSpadden said.
"All the way up to this time, it was like a dream," said his father. "Seeing him in a casket today made it reality."
Three White House representatives will also be at the funeral, including Broderick Johnson, who heads the Brother’s Keepers Task Force, and Marlon Marshall and Heather Foster of the Office of Public Engagement. Marshall is a St. Louis native who attended high school with Brown’s mother.
Brown's great uncle, Pastor Charles Ewing, will deliver the eulogy. In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Ewing remembered a conversation he had with his nephew in which the young man told him, "One day the whole world is going to know my name."
"Isn't that something?" Ewing said. "Not knowing that this was going to happen, and that's what touched me — 'the whole world will know my name.'"
The funeral is being broadcast live here.