ST. LOUIS — As the parents of Michael Brown appeared Thursday in the nation’s capital to call on the Justice Department to take over the case of their 18-year-old son whom police shot in August, the chief in the St. Louis suburb where he was killed apologized to the Brown family.
Police Chief Thomas Jackson in Ferguson, Mo., issued a video apology Thursday to Brown’s parents and peaceful protesters, according to a St. Louis public-relations firm’s video.
“I’m truly sorry for the loss of your son. I’m also sorry that it took so long to remove Michael from the street,” said Jackson, dressed casually in a red polo shirt. “You have every right to be angry and upset. The time that it took involved the completion of the work of the investigators to preserve physical evidence and determine the facts, but 4½ hours was simply too long.”
The family of slain teen Michael Brown, who senselessly died early last month at the hands of Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson, are now in Atlanta to kick off a nationwide effort to arm police with body cameras, according to WSB-TV.
Brown’s parents, Lesley McSpadden (pictured right) and Michael Brown Sr. (pictured), are trying to get legislation, the Michael Brown law, passed that will require officers to sport body cameras while on duty.
According to the couple, if Wilson would have been wearing the body camera, there would be no questions as to the tragic turn of events that led to their son’s murder. Wearing cameras have been associated with dramatic reductions in use of force and complaints against officers.
The couple attended a rally on Sunday that was held at a Baptist church in Atlanta. The pair reportedly felt Atlanta was a great place to start with their body camera quest, because the city’s chief of police is already on board with the body-worn camera project. At the rally, McSpadden and Brown met Jacqueline Johnson, the Mother of slain teen Kendrick, whose unusual death still has investigators baffled.
Kendrick, a 17-year-old Georgia high school student, was found dead with his body placed in a rolled-up wrestling mat at his school gymnasium. At first an investigation and autopsy deemed Johnson’s death accidental, but then his family hired a private pathologist who concluded he passed away from blunt force trauma. Johnson’s family members are reportedly convinced the teen’s death was racially motivated as he had been attacked and victimized previously by a white student.
The stop in the southern city is just the first, as McSpadden and Brown are on a tour of gratitude that began in Atlanta and will end on Thursday in Washington, D.C.
In the nation’s capital, both McSpadden and Brown plan on campaigning for the Michael Brown legislation they are hoping will get placed on the books. The parents also want the federal government to take over the investigation of their son’s murder.
According to Benjamin Crump, the attorney who is representing both the Brown and Johnson families, Atlanta is a great place to begin their mission on getting laws passed for officers to wear body cameras, “We’re trying to make sure that this doesn’t happen to nobody else’s child, so we’re pushing for the Michael Brown laws to have body cameras on all these police officers,” he said.
The parents of Michael Brown will be attending the rally for Eric Garner in Staten Island, N.Y., this Saturday.
According to the Huffington Post, Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr., and mother, Lesley McSpadden, will attend the rally, which is expected to draw more than 15,000 people.
Attendees will march from the location of Garner’s death to the Staten Island district attorney’s office. Supporters of the march hope that it will “symbolically link” the deaths of Brown and Garner and energize the advocacy against police brutality.
Brown’s parents were not sure of their attendance at first because they had not yet set a date for Brown’s funeral. Their legal representation, Benjamin Crump, announced Wednesday that Brown’s funeral will be held Monday.
One organization is working to not only honor the achievements and legacy of the late Michael Brown, but to also help his younger siblings achieve what he didn’t have the chance to.
Brown, the unarmed black teen who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, earlier this month, was a recent high school graduate. He was scheduled to start classes at Vatterott College on Aug. 11, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but was killed two days prior. The Wisconsin Hope Lab — a program that researches ways to minimize barriers for students of all backgrounds to attain a post-secondary education — is working in conjunction with the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County to create the “Mike Brown College Scholarship,” which will help Brown’s three siblings attend college.
Though one university president, who has chosen to remain anonymous, has offered a debt-free education at his institution for Brown’s siblings, the scholarship fund, which has been raising money through a crowd funded campaign, will offer support for Brown’s two sisters and brother, regardless of where they choose to pursue their higher education.
While the fund will provide the late teen’s family with financial support, the founders of the scholarship say they also aim to honor and remember Brown, a young man who family and friends say was excited to start his new life as a college student.
As everyone knows, the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the unrest, protests and investigations that continue to unfold in the wake of this tragedy are mightily affecting (and hopefully redefining) the national conversation on racism, abuses of power and overbearing, militarized police action against citizens.
As the editor of a website dedicated solely to providing and promoting Good Black News, it has been admittedly hard in the past week to bring myself to post what were starting to seem like frivolous accomplishments and events in the wake of a soul-stirring grass roots movement against tyranny and injustice. This unrest in particular feels like it has the makings of a sea change from the status quo into a new era of human rights, where systemic and commonplace brutality is voted down and rooted out of any and all policing bodies that are meant to Protect and Serve, not Terrify and Dehumanize.
But, even though the eventual outcome could lead to something positive, how can any of what is happening day-to-day (tear gassing, unprovoked arrests, pockets of protester violence, autopsy results) qualify as Good Black News? But not posting anything about Ferguson did not feel right, either. Thus, aside from a few tweets, GBN has been silent for days.
Upon serious thought and reflection, I’ve come to believe that publishing Good Black News is more important and necessary than ever. The achievements of people of color are still woefully under-publicized and reported, and the only way to change minds or inspire pride in those who internalize the “less than” narrative, is to keep putting as much GBN out there as possible.
Thus, going forward, in addition to our regular mix of GBN, we will also post items, tweets, stories and pictures that cover the Ferguson story — the GBN philosophy will still be in place and nothing will be incendiary or negative — in fact, non-violent protest, speaking out, photos, tweets and the like that continue to highlight the injustices still prevalent in this country ARE, in my opinion, Good Black News. Granted, nothing will bring back Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Oscar Grant or countless others who have suffered the same unjust fate, but positive, insistent protests and actions do have the power to prevent the next young man or woman of color from being victimized, and that we uncategorically and unreservedly support.
Onward and upward —
Lori Lakin Hutcherson, GBN Founder and Editor-In-Chief