FERGUSON, Mo. – Hundreds converged on Ferguson on Saturday to march for Michael Brown, the unarmed black 18-year-old shot and killed by a white police officer three weeks ago. His death stoked national discourse about police tactics and race, which the rally’s organizers pledged to continue.
Led by Brown’s parents and other relatives, Saturday’s throng peacefully made its way through the St. Louis suburb to a makeshift memorial that marked the spot where Brown was shot Aug. 9 by officer Darren Wilson.
We know that his life is not going to be in vain, the Rev. Spencer Booker of St. Louis’ St. Paul A.M.E. Church said into a megaphone, standing in the middle of the street amid candles, placards, stuffed animals and now-wilted flowers.
We know you’re going to even the score, God. We know you’re going to make the wrong right.
Brown’s parents – mother Lesley McSpadden and father Michael Brown Sr. – encircled the memorial with other family members during prayers, including one by a Muslim clergy member.
Hours later, hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the police department, blocking the road. Fiery speeches by way of loudspeakers mounted to a car gave way to another march, with chants of, If we can’t have it, we’re shutting it down.
Some lobbed angry insults at a line of Ferguson officers and state police who stood guard at a taped-off section of the city parking lot, but the numbers of protesters dwindled to double digits by late afternoon.
Wilson, a six-year police veteran, has not been charged. A St. Louis County grand jury is considering evidence, and federal investigators are sorting out whether Brown’s civil rights were violated.
The march began in a neighborhood that became the nexus of nightly protests – some contentious and violent – and looting in the days after Brown’s death. Many of the businesses’ windows remain boarded up, though most have reopened.