Town Questions Police and Mourns Murder of Black Teen Michael Brown

In the days following the death of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black teen murdered by local police, questions continue unabated as a city and nation demand answers from the Ferguson, Mo., police force. What exactly happened that caused one cop to shoot the unarmed young man repeatedly in the street? What is the department doing to ensure that a full and uncompromised investigation is happening? And most importantly, what is being done in both this St. Louis area neighborhood and across the city, state and country to ensure a similar event doesn’t happen again?

According to police, Brown was the instigator in the incident. “In a news conference Sunday morning, Belmar, the county police chief, said the Ferguson officer had an encounter with two ‘individuals’ about noon Saturday and that Brown pushed the officer back into his car and ‘assaulted’ him in the vehicle,” reports the St. Louis Dispatch. “Belmar said one shot was fired by the officer’s gun inside the car during the struggle, hitting no one, and that the officer then fired multiple times as Brown ran away. Brown fell dead in the street. Belmar said the crime scene covered a distance of just 35 feet.”

That version of the events bears little resemblance to the story being told by alleged witnesses to the incident, including another young man who was with Brown. “Dorian Johnson says they kept walking, causing the officer to confront the boys, first from his car, then he got out of the car, firing a shot. He said he and Brown were scared and ran away from the officer,” reports the local Fox affiliate. “‘He shot again, and once my friend felt that shot, he turned around and put his hands in the air and started to get down,’ Dorian Johnson said. ‘And the officer still approached with his weapon drawn and fired several more shots.’”

The residents’ emotions have continued to roil as Ferguson demands accurate accounts of what really happened and why a teen who was about to begin college instead is being prepped for his own funeral. Multiple memorials and vigils have taken place, one of which escalated into a riot as mourners’ anger over the situation mounted. One officer, meanwhile, responded to the rioters by saying “Bring it, all you f*cking animals! Bring it!”

The FBI will now be opening its own probe into the case to see if there were any civil rights violations, a move which hopefully will bring both clarity and peace once the investigation ends. However, regardless of what the investigators find, it will neither bring back Brown, nor will it directly address the fact that there are definite and undeniable racial issues at play between the police and residents of Ferguson. As Buzzfeed shows, African Americans are by far disproportionately stopped by police in the area, and represent nearly 93 percent of the arrests despite being only 68 percent of the actual population.

The NAACP will host a meeting on Monday evening to help rally the community, as well as seek out further answers about the Brown murder and how to “heal the community.” The problem is of course that this goes far beyond the community itself. Just last week, Renisha McBride’s killer was finally convicted for shooting her through his screen door when she arrived on his porch looking for help after a car accident. The Root has posted a photo gallery of 21 unarmed black men and boys killed by police just since 1999, most of them within the last 10 years. As Adam Hudson reported in 2013, a black man is killed approximately every 28 hours either by police or someone acting as a “vigilante.”

Already, some suggestions have been made to put a band-aid on police profiling. There have been suggestions that mandating all cop cars have on board cameras, and that officers wear forward pointing cameras as well, has greatly reduced the number of arrests and incidents that have escalated into violence and yes, maybe that is an answer for now.

What it doesn’t address, overall, is that our society has determined that out of fear, power or for some other reason we view shooting with lethal force not as a last resort but as a first line option, and one that is massively affected by racial and economic disparities. No amount of surveillance will ever simply make that problem disappear.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Sandra Cowley
Sandra Cowley2 years ago

Shil, thank you for sending me the video on Michael Brown. I am still shaking from the ugliness of his behaviour, his violent evil behaviour. I wonder if his parents have seen it? Having said that, now there will never be a chance for his redemption, he's dead, shot by a full grown man, taught self-defence and armed with a deadly weapon. This video certainly puts another face on Michael - we are ALL multifaceted - and he is not a person I would want in my city, as he was. However, he was unarmed, the cop was an experienced one and what if Miachael were an emotionally disturbed person (this video indicates he was, though undiagnosed) who was reacting to a power move from a uniformed male? In Toronto, several unarmed mentally ill men and women have been shot dead by trigger-hungry cops. It used to be that policemen were neighbourhood friends, heros. Too often today, they seem to be all about power, control, violence and looking after themselves first, instead of the people they are paid to defend. So as wicked as Michael Brown appears in this photo, shooting him dead - by-the-way, aren't police TRAINED to shoot and so, aim for a less deadly spot on a body? - with another police man near him to back him up, should NEVER have been an option. This policeman revealed himself to be a coward and too prone to shoot first, ask questions afterwards. At the least, his badge should be forfeit. And I'm still shook up inside, after watching that horrendous behaviour of Brown's!

Shil O.
Shil O2 years ago

update on Michael Brown

Lucy S.
Past Member 3 years ago

Thanks for the article, though more facts upcoming in the days,weeks,months ahead. Some Police are nasty all over the country. Just stay out of their way, by living a clean and honest existence. Mind where you live also!

Bill C.
Bill C3 years ago

He was NOT shot running away according to independent family autopsy, he was hit 6 times one in the eye one in the top of the head one shoulder. Tope of the head shot is what they are focusing on but that is easily explained with a person falling while being shot.

To say both over reacted would likely be fact and we need to gather all the information

Last night rioters fired shot on an assault of a staging area.

IMO we need video cams on every cop, they are not that expensive, info stored on a data base and high quality film of the event from the cops view is available

My bet is Brown did not like being questioned and reacted physically, cop feared or his life and overkill happened and it happened extremely quickly

Deborah W.
Deborah W3 years ago

Minister Johnathan Gentry's viral rant is dead-on and needs to be seen and heard as a truth too often neglected.

Why do you think that when Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, NAACP, hacktivist group ANONYMOUS, New Black Panthers, Bloods in their red signatureware, and the crowds of outsiders who suddenly flooded into the locals protesting, to loot and further stimulate a hate of police and whites so quickly got out of hand ... and, at that point, what it's all about got pushed into the background?

Tim W.
Timothy W3 years ago

Claire J.
The officer had a swollen face where he had been allegedly hit by the deceased. This wasn't necessarily just a push. You are basing what you believe on the testimony of a friend and a teen who lived in the area that did not see the entire event.

Tim W.
Timothy W3 years ago

There is no such thing as a un armed protest in St. Louis. There are a lot of guns out there right now and the police need to be ready for that, they also need to be able to protect the business that have been looted and burned. The reaction here in St. Louis has gotten out of hand. I agree that there should be a full investigation, but you can't just charge someone with murder without the facts. So far everything is being based on the testimony of the victims friend and one other teen who didn't even see the entire encounter. I think that people would react to the police reaction if they lived in St.Louis and were more familiar with how dangerous much of the city is. I assure people that the police are not arming themselves against un armed people.

I am no fan of the police. I believe most of them to have major superiority issues, and have had problems with them myself as a gay man. I still believe that the officer deserves to be treated as innocent until proven guilty.

Claire Jordan
Claire Jordan3 years ago

Irrespective of how the fight started, both sides are agreed that the cop shot this kid as he was running away, so there was no question of self-defence at this point - he was killed in cold blood to stop him from escaping, after a minor crime (if there was a crime at all) which didn't suggest that he represented any serious danger to the public if he should get away. I mean, if a mass-murdering gunman or a serial killer is fleeing yes, you'd have to shoot them to stop them killing again - but to gun down a kid because he ran away after he may or may not have pushed somebody is just arrogant, murderous control-freakishness.

Nor is this a new thing. My grandmother’s first cousin George Milne Shirran, expatriate Scot and a former Sergeant in the US army, was gunned down by the local Sheriff’s deputies in Wyoming in the 1920s. Yes, he was a criminal resisting arrest – but his crime was running an illicit still during Prohibition and he resisted by driving away, not by doing anything threatening, but they just opened fire and shot him and his partner through the window of their truck.

Jonathan Harper
Jonathan H3 years ago


Angela Ray
Angela Ray3 years ago

They should be questioned.