AFRICANGLOBE – It took a village to bury Michael Brown.
It took more than the 600 members of Brown’s family who gathered inside the jam-packed Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church. It took more than the 2,500 Black folks who filled the sanctuary. It took more than the hundreds of mourners who stood outside the church under a sweltering sun because there was no room in the building.
The Black community in St. Louis said goodbye to one its own Monday. And although most of the mourners didn’t know Michael Brown, had never seen Michael Brown, and never spoke a word to Michael Brown, they came to pay their final respects because of how Michael Brown died. He was unarmed, shot six times on Aug. 9 by Darren Wilson, a White police officer from Ferguson, Missouri, and left lying facedown on dirty pavement for four hours.
As I sat inside the sanctuary, I watched the slow stream of mourners pack the pews. Some came to Friendly Temple because they felt sympathy for Black parents who had to bury their son; some came because they are still angry about the shooting; others came because Michael Brown’s name has become synonymous with a national rallying call for justice.
Brown, 18, was killed in what could be called the war against young Black men – the escalating attacks by police on African-American males, a fierce war that is often played out on our nation’s streets.
It’s a relentless assault—and young Black men in America are being targeted while driving, targeted while walking, targeted just for being. In Ferguson, tensions were high even before Brown’s death as the city is 67 percent Black, but only three of its 53 police officers are Black.
It’s quiet in Ferguson, Missouri, today, the predominantly Black suburb of St. Louis where dozens were arrested during days of civil unrest and protests following Brown’s death. Michael Brown’s parents pleaded for calm Monday and asked that protests stop for just one day so they could bury their son.
And while a Grand Jury has been empaneled to hear evidence in the case and decide whether to indict Officer Darren Wilson, Rev. Michael Jones, pastor of Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church, said in an interview that he is tired of burying young Black men and talked about Michael Brown’s death from a historical and social perspective.
During the civil rights movement in St. Louis, “We didn’t respond or revolt in a way that resembled the times” as people did in some other cities, Jones said. “So in a quiet way, I think the frustrations have been sleeping or simmering.” Now, Jones said, “There appears to be a revolution of sorts happening in St. Louis.”
“There’s a racial component of inequities Blacks are speaking to,” Jones added. “That is a huge problem that is often not dealt with here in St. Louis and it will continue to scream loudly. It creates a level of frustration and creates a sense of hopelessness and a sense of anger.”
“I know the powers that be in this region would not want to see this,” he said, “but it was inevitable.”
Like Rev. Jones, I’ve grown weary of watching the funeral processions for young Black men. It upsets me when I hear Black mothers grieving for their slain sons and Black fathers talk about losing their best friends.
So where do we go from here?
As I drove through side streets near Ferguson while daylight turned to darkness, I paid close attention to the speed limit as a police cruiser sped through an intersection.
“I couldn’t protect you but we love you,” the grieving father, Michael Brown Sr., wrote on a funeral card. “I will never let you die in my heart.”
How can we protect Black children? Unarmed young Black men should not be gunned down by police simply for walking along America’s streets.
I understand the anger in Ferguson because, as a Black man, I’m outraged, too.
What do you think?
By: Michael H. Cottman
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