Since Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer, protesters have taken to the streets of a St. Louis suburb night after night, calling for change and drawing national attention to issues surrounding race and policing.
Monday will be a day for his family and community to finally focus on mourning the 18-year-old who had been eager to start college, as he is laid to rest at a public funeral at a St. Louis church.
His father, Michael Brown Sr., has asked protesters to take a break Monday and observe a “day of silence” so the family can grieve.
“Tomorrow all I want is peace,” he told hundreds of people in St. Louis’ largest city park Sunday during brief remarks at a festival that promotes peace over violence. “That’s all I ask.”
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Brown, who is black, was unarmed when he was shot Aug. 9 by Officer Darren Wilson, who is white. 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 asked Brown and a friend he was walking down the street with to move. Police said Wilson was pushed into his squad car and physically assaulted. Some witnesses have reported seeing Brown’s arms in the air – an act of surrender. An autopsy found Brown was shot at least six times.
Family members denounced a video police released of an alleged theft by Brown that authorities say shows him snatching some cigars in a convenience store just before he was killed. In the video, the person said to be Brown is shown grabbing a clerk by the shirt and forcefully pushing him into a display rack.
Family and friends say Brown was an aspiring rapper with a gentle, joking manner who dubbed himself “Big Mike.” He was good at fixing things, liked computer games, Lil Wayne, Drake, the movie “Grown Ups 2,” and the TV show “Family Guy.”
Brown’s great uncle, pastor Charles Ewing, will deliver the eulogy at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church, and the Rev. Al Sharpton is also expected to speak.
“We don’t want anything tomorrow to happen that might defile the name of Michael Brown,” Sharpton said as he stood next to Brown’s father on Sunday. “This is not about our rage tomorrow. It’s about the legacy and memory of his son.”
President Barack Obama is sending three White House aides, and Gov. Jay Nixon said he will attend.
Monday will also mark the first day back at school for students in the Ferguson-Florissant School District. Classes were scheduled to begin Aug. 14 but postponed due to safety concerns.
School personnel have received training in how to deal with students who may be experiencing stress related to the shooting and its aftermath.