Ahead of Michael Brown's funeral, calls to not let the moment pass
August 24th, 2014
08:21 PM ET
4 weeks ago

Ahead of Michael Brown's funeral, calls to not let the moment pass

(CNN) – One day before thousands are expected to gather for the funeral of Michael Brown, political and civil rights leaders don't appear ready to let the moment pass. On the Sunday political talk shows, many called for conversations about the relationship between law enforcement and minority citizens as well as a long, hard look at the tactical gear offered to local police after 9/11.

"There needs to be a frank discussion about how we change the way the African American community is policed," Rep. William Lacy Clay, the Democrat who represents the Ferguson community in Congress, told CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday. "These people were sworn to serve and protect. And apparently that is not happening here. And so we have to change that dynamic."

Brown, an 18-year-old African American, was shot and killed by a white police officer on August 9 in Ferguson, Missouri, under circumstances that, while still subject to several investigations, sparked immediate outcry. The racially-charged optics of the shooting, coupled with what some in the community say are long-simmering racial tensions in the area, sparked weeks of sometimes-violent protests.

Upset community members demanded that they be heard as they protested, police bore down to maintain order and canisters of tear gas ricocheted off the pavement in Ferguson, stirring emotions across the United States. By the end of last week, President Barack Obama had interrupted his time away from Washington twice to address the situation from his Martha's Vineyard vacation.

Brown's funeral, which will feature a eulogy by the Rev. Al Sharpton, comes as tensions appear to have eased in Ferguson. Sharpton, who praised what he said was an even-handed, appropriate response by Obama, said he'll speak Monday about how to build on the message of the nonviolent protesters.

"My message is that we've got to turn this moment into a movement," Sharpton said. "We cannot be anti-police. We cannot be violent. But we cannot duck what history is called upon."

Sharpton said there is also a critical place for potential 2016 presidential contenders like Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, as well as prominent leaders like former President Bill Clinton, in any national discussion arising from Brown's death.

"It would seem to me, if you are seeking the highest office, we ought to have some idea what you would do in the higher office during this time," Sharpton said. "They need to address racial profiling. They need to address the continued disproportionate amount of young blacks, particularly young black males, killed by police. They need to deal with the militarization of policing. They need to deal with this idea of low-level crimes being dealt with with aggressive policing."

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who is considering a bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, told NBC's "Meet the Press" the police response to protests in Ferguson was questionable.

"Let's say none of this has to do with race. It might not," Paul said. "But the belief - if you're African-American and you live in Ferguson - the belief is you see the people in prison and they're mostly black and brown, that somehow it is racial even if the thoughts that were going on at that time had nothing to do with race."


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soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Liz the First

    Although i don't believe stealing cigars should be punishable by death, the sad truth is that Michael Brown put himself in the position of being in conflict with the police. we may never know the truth of what actually happened, and the police do sometimes overreact when dealing with African-American youth, and that's wrong. but the bottom line is, if you don't want your kids ending up being the target of police, raise better kids. teach them not to strong-arm rob stores, or drop out of school, or join gangs. black youth are what their parents make them. the community has to take responsibility for the behavior of its youth. your great-great-great-grandparents being slaves is not an excuse to waste your life and blame everyone but yourself if you end up in poverty. opportunity exists and kids who apply themselves and stay in school have a better chance of success in life, black or white. i'm not denying black kids have more obstacles in some areas, but it's still not an excuse to give up and choose the thug life.

    August 24, 2014 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  2. faketony

    I can`t imagine taking a swing at a police officer on duty: Good luck with that if you can.

    August 24, 2014 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  3. rick

    My words cant even come close to any comfort of the fanily. But rest assured. It will not be long before a group can protest without a automatic weapon being pointed and ANYONE much longer. The police will become back to what they took the oath of.."protect and serve" in first place. The demillitarizing of police has begun. And legislation in congress on first of month with almost ENTIRE republican and democratic backing will be first on agenda. Will be signed into law banning those type weapons being used against american citizens. And a HARD look at many shootings that are questionable in the attorney generals eyes from all over. Will be the news in most voices soon. The answers are slow in comming. But the truth will be shown.. And then the family can have what is called closure. The police officer will then become what they are supposed to be. A friend instead of a reason to run..

    August 24, 2014 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  4. PiedType

    It would be nice if young Michael Brown were accorded a quiet, dignified funeral and burial. The protests, demonstrations, anger, and pontificating could wait. It would be nice, but I doubt it will happen.

    August 24, 2014 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  5. Name uche agonsi uche agonsi

    US must search for effective way to deal with racism, moreso in public services. Its not joyful for this to rear its ugly head decades after it was declared illegal in the country, which prides itself as the seat of Democracy. No matter how the Ferguson case is viewed, shooting an unarmed person over six times at close range is simply madness and unjustifiable under any circumstance. And for people who would suggest its better to employ unconscionable police than not, its better they share Brown experience in their families to realize how justified the idea. Such issues also have foreign policy implications as they put US in discomforting position while dealing with racism in other countries.

    August 25, 2014 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  6. Name:Ismael Musa

    rip michael.my condolences 2 tha family

    August 25, 2014 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  7. Zoro

    These issues are complex and the long term solution is repatriation of a demographic that has been villafied, subjagated and disenfranchised. The education system, regrentrifacation and the prison complex and the system has ensured this as an end state.

    August 25, 2014 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  8. Philip

    Michael Brown is a known strong arm robber of weaker men. He should be given a decent burial without praise from Christian leaders. Glorifying criminals is stupid, and only encourages gang bangers to continue to murder, rape, and rob more of US each day.
    Police shoot and kill about 400 US citizens each year and only rape a few of US. Like openly gay police officer Joshua Carrier who was convicted of molesting over a dozen young males last year in Colorado Springs. He is now in prison for the rest of his gay lifestyle choice.
    Meanwhile, there are over 1,200 street and outlaw biker gangs with hundreds of gang members being convicted of rape, robbery, and murder each year. Our police NEED to be outfitted with the necessary armaments to combat domestic terrorists. Duh!

    August 25, 2014 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  9. grizzabee

    Republicans and Democrats are promoting the same stories across all major news networks (MSNBC, CNN, FOX, etc). There is no difference between the two parties. Ridiculous.
    Is there a political alternative to fear, big government, surveillance, and war? What party will promote fear and big government the least in 2016?

    August 25, 2014 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  10. Marie MD

    But, but, but, according to the scotus and the randy the quack from KY and hamburger runner we have no problems with race in the US. You kidding?

    August 25, 2014 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  11. Bean Counter

    A thief/thug attacks a cop and the city explodes with looters... Yet the shootings at a Chris Brown VMA party goes unnoticed and hidden by the media...

    August 25, 2014 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  12. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    There goes Rand again pandering. Remember little Aynie, you're on record as saying people should be allowed to serve whom they want to. You're also on record saying you would have voted against Civil Rights if you were around back then. The police violate the Civil Rights of blacks on a daily basis. And it's not just white cops, black ones are just as bad if not worse. "Black police showing out for the white cop!"

    But in this instance it was a trigger happy neck that's probably being praised by his buddies for getting another one, just like GZ was. Oh do I remember the comments praising him as a hero on Disqus. While trashing a dead child's reputation.

    August 25, 2014 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  13. Bill

    All these folks want to get out and protest – what are they protesting? They want change? Walking in the street is not going to create change. About 6% of these folks in Ferguson voted in the last election. Why don't they get themselves to the polls or run for office to influence change? Am I missing something here? Not enough black cops? Not enough black city leaders? How do they expect them to have more if they do not take the steps to make it happen? Why no involvement unless they are protesting in the streets? Does not make sense to me.

    August 25, 2014 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  14. Rudy NYC

    Liz the First

    Although i don't believe stealing cigars should be punishable by death, the sad truth is that Michael Brown put himself in the position of being in conflict with the police. we may never know the truth of what actually happened, and the police do sometimes overreact when dealing with African-American youth, and that's wrong.
    -----------------------------
    How did Michael Brown "put himself in the position of being conflict with the police" when not only did the officer approach him, but Brown reportedly walked away and the officer approached him again? How do you know "the truth" in one sentence, but deny that anyone will know the truth the next? What was wrong with the officer's taser? Pepper spray? Ferguson police do carry them.

    Did you know that a man was arrested by St Louis County police for aiming a rifle a passing cars on the interstate? Did you know that not a shot was fired at him, and the *white* man was disabled with a taser and taken into custody? How come they didn't shoot first and ask questions later? Can you name one incident of a black police officer shooting an unarmed white civilian and killing them?

    August 25, 2014 08:56 am at 8:56 am |