Mourners urge black Americans to take action

St Louis - The mourners filled an enormous church to remember Michael Brown - a "gentle giant", aspiring rapper and recent high school graduate on his way to a technical college.

But the funeral that unfolded on Monday was about much more than the black 18-year-old who lay in the closed coffin after being shot to death by a white police officer. The emotional service sought to consecrate Brown's death as another in the long history of the civil rights movement and implored black Americans to change their protest chants into legislation and law.

"Show up at the voting booths. Let your voices be heard, and let everyone know that we have had enough of all of this," said Eric Davis, one of Brown's cousins.

The Reverend Al Sharpton called for a movement to clean up police forces and the communities they serve.

"We're not anti-police. We respect police. But those police that are wrong need to be dealt with just like those in our community that are wrong need to be dealt with," Sharpton said.

Two uncles recalled how Brown had once predicted that someday the whole world would know his name.

"He did not know he was offering up a divine prophecy," Bernard Ewing said.

More than 4 500 mourners filled Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St Louis for the service, which at times seemed like a cross between a gospel revival and a rock concert. It began with upbeat music punctuated by clapping. Some mourners danced in place.

The crowd included the parents of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed 17-year-old African-American fatally shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida, along with a cousin of Emmitt Till, a 14-year-old murdered by several white men while visiting Mississippi in 1955.

Till's killing galvanised the civil rights movement.

Blood 'crying from the ground'

Also in attendance were several White House aides, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, movie maker Spike Lee, entertainer Sean Combs and some children of Martin Luther King.

The Reverend Charles Ewing, the uncle who delivered the eulogy, said Brown "prophetically spoke his demise". And now his blood is "crying from the ground. Crying for vengeance. Crying for justice".

Poster-size photos of Brown, wearing headphones, were on each side of the coffin, which had a St Louis Cardinals ball cap on top of it. Large projection screens showed a photo of him clutching his high school diploma while wearing a cap and gown. Two days after his death, he had been scheduled to start training to become a heating and air conditioning technician.

Sharpton also took the black community to task, saying it should be as upset about black-on-black crime as it is about police violence: "We have to be outraged by our disrespect for each other."

"Blackness," he added, "has never been about being a gangster or a thug."

Money, possessions and prestige mean little, he said, "if we can't protect a child walking down the street in Ferguson and protect him and bring justice".

Brown's death fuelled nearly two weeks of street protests in the St Louis suburb of Ferguson. But his father, Michael Brown snr, asked protesters to observe a "day of silence" on Monday to let the family grieve.

The request appeared to be honoured. At the Ferguson police department, where a small but steady group of protesters have stood vigil for two weeks, a handmade sign announced a "break for funeral". On Monday afternoon, the West Florissant Avenue commercial corridor was also devoid of protesters, whose ranks have typically swelled as days turned to nights.

Taken advantage of

After the service, Corey Thomas, a 34-year-old St Louis man said the large crowd at the church reflected "that people are tired of being treated like dogs. They're tired of being taken advantage of".

The mourners came to show their support because "it could be any one of us", Thomas said.

Angela Pierre, a machine operator who once lived in Ferguson, said she hopes the funeral helps turn a page and eases tensions. Most important, though, she hopes it provides healing for Brown's family.

"I really wanted to just be here today to pray for the family and pray for peace," said Pierre, 48, who is black. "When all of this dies down, there's still a mother, father and a family who's lost someone. Sometimes a lot of the unrest takes away from that."

Brown was unarmed when he was shot on 9 August by officer Darren Wilson. A grand jury is considering evidence in the case, and a federal investigation is also underway.

Police have said a scuffle broke out after Wilson told Brown and a friend to move out of the street and onto a sidewalk. Police said Wilson was pushed into his squad car and physically assaulted.

Some witnesses have reported seeing Brown's arms in the air in an act of surrender. An autopsy found Brown was shot at least six times.

Relatives denounced a video released by police, who say it shows Brown snatching cigars from a convenience store just before he was killed. In the video, the person said to be Brown is seen grabbing a clerk by the shirt and forcefully pushing him into a display rack.

Read more on: michael brown us
Henderson 2014-08-26 12:11:20 AM
Dont alwayz brand whites as racists there millions of racists out there!
Jan Schoeman 2014-08-26 12:27:04 AM
Can someone tell me why this is in South African news???? In a country where everyone is so unnescesarily aware of race, do we need to know about this????
Billy Hewie 2014-08-26 12:35:30 AM
Is there gong to be such a "show" for Dillon Taylor. a 20 year old unarmed white male who was shot by a black cop in Salt Lake City,Utah. on the 11th Aug 2014(Just 2 days after Brown).Will we see Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Spike Lee, Sean Combs, White house aides, Trayvon Martins parents, Martin Luther Kings Children, Emmitt Tills cousins or the worlds media at Dillon Taylors funeral. I doubt it, he is the wrong colour Hue for the "dignitaries" at this funeral. Google Dillon Taylor Shooting to see the hypocricy.
Byron Templeman 2014-08-26 03:30:08 AM
" A Gentle Giant" who assaults innocent people and then robs their store. You are having a laugh man...
Avhashoni Tshatsinde 2014-08-26 03:33:08 AM
We all from the same blood line, be it biblically or through evolution, so why cant we co-exist in peace and mutual respect like the branches of the same tree and the leaves of the same branch?
Alton Small 2014-08-26 03:44:23 AM
If thousands out there had the same positive attitude like you then maybe just maybe we will all get along what you think Avhashoni,1 small giants killing is a small price to pay compared to little innocent children being shot to death in Iraq for not color much religious beliefs.
Rodger Adams 2014-08-26 04:11:52 AM
Big story so little information on what realy happen that night.
Richard Barry 2014-08-26 04:18:36 AM
Like God changed the tongues of the nations at the tower of Babel, I am pretty sure he will change the colour of the nations eyes to see no colour... Enough already of this white vs black nonesense!
Juan Myburgh 2014-08-26 05:28:35 AM
He attacked an old lady. Shoot the bastard again.
Ali Maree 2014-08-26 05:39:02 AM
Hahahah, gentle giant who robs people's stores.nice.