August 9, 2015 / 1:02 PM / 4 years ago

Ferguson protests mostly peaceful on anniversary of Brown shooting

FERGUSON, Mo. (Reuters) - Hundreds of people marched, prayed and observed minutes of silence in Ferguson, Missouri on Sunday to mark the anniversary of the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer a year ago.

White, black, old and young people, some pushing children in strollers, turned out for a day of commemorative events in this mostly black St. Louis suburb where Michael Brown, 18, was fatally shot on Aug. 9, 2014.

Brown’s shooting sparked months of protests, including incidents of rioting and arson. But it also gave life to the “Black Lives Matter” movement that has pushed for better treatment of minorities after the deaths of other unarmed black men and women in New York, New York, Cincinnati and Baltimore.

The weekend’s events, by contrast, were largely peaceful affairs with police keeping a low profile, but protesters have been urged to carry out acts of civil disobedience after midnight on Sunday.

White doves were released after 4-1/2 minutes of silence to represent the roughly 4-1/2 hours that Brown’s body lay in the middle of the street after he was shot. A crowd of about 1,000 started a silent march through Ferguson to honor Brown and others who have died at the hands of police.

Another name was added to that list on Friday when unarmed 19-year-old Christian Taylor, a black college student, was shot dead by a white police officer investigating a burglary at a car dealership in Arlington, Texas.

In New York, about 100 protesters in the borough of Brooklyn lay on the ground on Sunday for 4-1/2 minutes to mark Brown’s death. Two were arrested, and some of the protesters later held a second rally in central Manhattan.

“A year ago this day people took the streets in defiance all over the country and it was inspiring, it was liberating, it was beautiful” said Jamel Mins, 29, the organizer of the New York protests. “Our work is not done.”


In Ferguson, Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr., wore a T-shirt bearing his son’s image and the slogan “Chosen for Change” as he attended the newly rebuilt memorial of teddy bears, candles and flowers on the quiet residential road where Brown died.

Michael Brown Sr. (C) leads a memorial march for his son Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 8, 2015. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Others held “Black Lives Matter” banners and signs calling for justice for those killed by police.

“I hurt every day. But I’m trying to make it uncomfortable to people that think this is OK to do this stuff,” Brown explained to reporters on Saturday.

A plaque featuring a metallic dove has been installed on the sidewalk a few feet from the spot where Brown died, and the street where his blood pooled has been repaved.

Hazel Bland, 51, who lives in the Canfield Green apartment complex where Brown was killed, said she thinks about the shooting every day.

“It is really sad. You never think this would happen, all these police officers killing all these people. I really hate that it happened,” Bland said on Sunday.

A federal review found that the officer, Darren Wilson, broke no laws when he shot Brown. But it also determined that the Ferguson police department for years had violated the rights of the city’s black population.

Slideshow (4 Images)

The anniversary weekend in Ferguson was marred by an apparently unrelated drive-by shooting on Sunday that took place a few blocks away from a church when marchers were approaching, police said. One person was wounded in the foot.

A 17-year-old was arrested on Saturday night after firing at a 22-year-old man in a strip mall parking lot, police said.

But the protests themselves went ahead without major incident, with police largely staying behind barricades and allowing demonstrators to vent their feelings.

Additional reporting by Sebastien Malo in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Eric Walsh

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