Mourners, civil rights leaders gather for funeral of slain Missouri teen

World Today

Lesley McSpadden stands at the casket the of her son Michael Brown during his funeral at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/New York Times, Richard Perry, Pool)

Mourners sang, clapped and danced on Monday at funeral services for Michael Brown, remembering the slain black teenager with words of goodwill and joy rather than the violence and outrage that followed his killing by a white police officer.

CCTV America’s Hendrik Sybrandy reports from outside the St. Louis church where the funeral service was held.

Follow Hendrik Sybrandy on Twitter @hsybrandy

Mourners, civil rights leaders gather for funeral of slain Missouri teen

Mourners sang, clapped and danced on Monday, August 25th at funeral services for Michael Brown, remembering the slain black teenager with words of goodwill and joy rather than the violence and outrage that followed his killing by a white police officer. CTV America's Hendrik Sybrandy reports from outside the St. Louis church where the funeral service was held.

Brown’s body lay at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in a black and gold casket, topped with the St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap he was wearing when he was killed on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Missouri.

As hundreds of people filed into the modern red-brick church on Dr. Martin Luther King Drive in St. Louis, Brown’s coffin was surrounded by photos of him as a child, graduating from school and smiling in his Cardinals cap.

Gospel music filled the sanctuary as hundreds of people stood inside the church, many dancing, singing and clapping.

Outside, gatherers sang the civil rights hymn “We Shall Overcome,” in a scene markedly different from the violent protests that rocked the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson after Brown’s death.

Brown’s father appealed for calm as family, politicians and activists gathered for the funeral on Monday following weeks of unrest.

The more than two weeks since Michael Brown’s death have been marked by nightly protests, some violent and chaotic, although tensions have eased in recent days.

“Tomorrow all I want is peace,” Michael Brown Sr. told hundreds of people Sunday in St. Louis’ largest city park during brief remarks at Peace Fest, a festival that promotes peace over violence. “That’s all I ask.”

Brown Sr. told the crowd that he and his son’s mother appreciate the love and support they’ve received from the community.

More Ferguson coverage on CCTV America

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who will speak at the funeral, echoed Brown’s request for peace.

“We don’t want anything tomorrow to happen that might defile the name of Michael Brown,” Sharpton said. “This is not about our rage tomorrow. It’s about the legacy and memory of his son.”

Lesley McSpadden, Michael Brown’s mother, appeared on stage with Sharpton, who told the crowd that McSpadden and her family saw Brown’s body Monday for the first time since the day of the shooting.

Peace Fest 2014 was already in the works before Officer Darren Wilson shot Brown Aug. 9 in a St. Louis suburb, but it took on new resonance in the aftermath.

The parents of slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin also spoke, urging the crowd to channel its anger into action by pushing to strengthen families and better educate youth and expressing support for the Brown family and the people of the St. Louis area.

“We’re going to stand tall with you all,” Trayvon’s Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, said.

Trayvon Martin, 17, was also unarmed when he was shot and killed in 2012. George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who said he shot Martin in self-defense, was acquitted.

The nightly protests in Ferguson have been mostly peaceful in recent days, a contrast to images of police in riot gear firing tear gas canisters at angry protesters in the days after the Brown shooting. Tensions briefly flared then subsided late Saturday night and early Sunday.

A grand jury has started considering evidence in the case, and some local residents and officials have said they’re concerned that a failure to return an indictment against Wilson could stoke new anger in the community.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon reiterated his support Sunday for sticking with St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch. Brown’s parents and others in the community have expressed concerns that the office would not be impartial because of McCulloch’s ties to law enforcement.

The federal government also has launched its own investigation into the shooting.

For more perspectives on the lessons to be learned from this case and others from the past, here is an interview with Edward Chang, the professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of California at Riverside.

What we learned from Ferguson shooting incident

Mourners sang, clapped and danced on Monday at funeral services for Michael Brown, remembering the slain black teenager with words of goodwill and joy rather than the violence and outrage that followed his killing by a white police officer.

Report compiled with information from Reuters and The Associated Press