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Sunday, August 9, 2015

Supporters pay tribute to Michael Brown


FERGUSON, Missouri – Hundreds of people are expected to gather Sunday morning at the memorial of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen who was shot dead in the middle of the street by a white police officer exactly one year ago. 
Teddy bears and candles now mark the memorial on Canfield Drive where the community’s outrage to Brown’s death planted the seeds of protests that would grow into a national movement decrying police violence. His family is calling on supporters nationwide to join in a moment of silence at 11:55 central, paying tribute to the time of his death. From their they will lead a silent march to Greater Saint Marks Church, a place that became a central safe haven for protest groups in the aftermath of last summer’s violent unrest.
To his friends and family he was known as “Big Mike,” a gentle giant who loved rap and turn beats. He had just finished summer school at Normandy High and was looking forward to his first day of college at a trade school nearby.
But last Aug. 9, Brown was shot dead by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Public outrage over the killing led to massive demonstrations in the streets of Ferguson as their protests were met with rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets fired by police. The violent clashes between police and protesters went on for days, drawing international attention and condemnations from national leaders.
Months later a St. Louis grand jury declined to indict Wilson and more rounds of unrest ensued. Calls for “Black Lives Matter” echoed in communities across the country as Brown’s death raised awareness to the countless other black men and women who had died at the hands of police. 
It has been a grueling last 12 months for Brown family, whose fight for justice took them across the country and overseas in Mike Brown’s name. They joined a growing list of families who lost loved ones to gun and police violence and hoped to turn their tragedy into change through their advocacy. The toll has been especially great on Brown’s parents – Michael Brown Sr. says he has not shaved his beard since is son was gunned down and has no plans to trim it until substantial progress has been made.
The Brown family and partnering groups turned the anniversary to teen’s death into a full weekend of peaceful protests. The elder Michael Brown led a march from the place of his death to Normandy High School. Other groups scheduled free music concerts and block parties to mark the date.
For the activists who have been protesting since the day of Brown’s death, seeing the movement alive and growing a full year since when they first took the street meant a great deal.
“I’m emotional because people are growing over a year to be something great,” activist and organizer Tory Russell said.

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