A reported 4,500 people gathered Monday at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis to mourn the death of slain Ferguson, Mo. youth, Michael Brown, who was senselessly executed at the hands of policeman, Darren Wilson, as he and a friend walked to his grandmother’s house.
Brown, whom many referred to as a “gentle soul,” was memorialized by celebrities, activists, politicians and people who just wanted to show their support, according to CNN.
Brown was shot a reported six times by Wilson, who approached him for walking in the street as opposed to the sidewalk. The 18-year-old, who was only minutes away from his grandmother’s home, reportedly held up his hands in compliance as the officer emptied six bullets into his body.
The Brown killing set off days of chaotic demonstrations in Ferguson and a series of organized protests throughout the U.S. by folks who have grown tired of the bully tactics of law enforcers particularly against Black youths.
The funeral was attended by such entertainment notables as director Spike Lee, rapper Snoop Dogg, music mogul Sean “Diddy” Coombs and funny man Nick Cannon. Luminaries such as Martin Luther King III, Rev. Bernice King and Rev. Jesse Jackson also supported the Brown family during their time of mourning at the church.
There were those who also grieved and empathized with Brown’s parents as they too had lost loved ones to senseless brutality.
The parents of murdered teen, Trayvon Martin, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin—whose 17-year-old son died at the hands of pseudo security guard George Zimmerman two years ago because he felt threatened by the hoodie-wearing boy walking innocently along at a townhouse complex minding his own business, eating candy and drinking juice—were there to show their support.
The family of murdered Queens, New York resident, Sean Bell, was also in attendance at the memorial. Bell, along with two of his friends, had just exited a club after having celebrated at his bachelor party back in 2006. A plainclothes officer, who was also at the club, thought Bell and his friends had weapons.
The assumption led to his calling for backup. Moments later, five officers pumped fifty bullets into Bell’s vehicle, he was killed and the other two men were seriously injured. The murder took place on the eve of Bell’s nuptials.
Even though President Barack Obama did not attend the Brown funeral, the White House sent three emissaries to the service. Broderick Johnson, the chairman of the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force, a White House initiative focused on young men of color, was in attendance. Accompanying Johnson was Marlon Marshall, deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, which is the embodiment of the President’s goal of making government inclusive by creating and coordinating opportunities for direct dialogue between the Obama Administration and the American public. Finally, Heather Foster, who works with Marshall as an adviser, was also present at the youth’s celebration of life.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, however, did not attend.
“The governor has communicated to attorneys representing the family of Michael Brown that he will not be attending today’s funeral out of respect for the family, who deserve time to focus on remembering Michael and grieving their loss,” spokesman Scott Holste said before the service according to CNN.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, who has championed the cause of the youth whose fatal shooting sparked national controversy, was also front and center at the memorial. The head of the National Action Network in Harlem delivered a eulogy that contained a message for those whose initial peaceful motives turned to looting and violence.
“You don’t understand that Michael Brown does not want to be remembered for a riot. He wants to be remembered as the one that made America deal with how we’re going to police in the United States.”
Rev. Sharpton also had a few choice words for the officers, who pointed their loaded weapons at those supporters in Ferguson, who never had violence on their agenda. “We have to leave here today and change this,” he said.
According to Rev. Sharpton, Brown’s killing was a wakeup call for Blacks across these shores stating, “All of us are required to respond to this,” he thundered. “We can’t have a fit. We have to have a movement. “Finally with his usual fiery elegance, the good Rev. roused the crowd even more.
“We’re required in his name to change this country,” Sharpton said to cheers. “Justice is going to come! Justice is going to come! Justice is going to come!”
Brown’s great-uncle, the Rev. Charles Ewing also spoke at the service as he addressed the matter of justice being sought by those whose blood were spilled senselessly.
“Michael Brown’s blood is crying from the ground, crying for vengeance, crying for justice,” he said. “There is a cry being made from the ground, not just for Michael Brown but for the Trayvon Martins, for those children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, for the Columbine massacre, for the Black-on-Black crime.”
Brown’s parents Lesley McSpadden (pictured in red) and Michael Brown, Sr. (pictured above) were grief-stricken and reportedly, did not speak at the memorial for their son.