A year later, Michael Brown's family still in mourning
FERGUSON, Mo. -- On the eve of the anniversary of Michael Brown being shot and killed during a confrontation with a police officer, Brown's father said Saturday that the family is still mourning the 18-year-old's death.
Several weekend events are planned to commemorate the first anniversary of Brown's death. The unarmed black man was fatally shot by a white police officer on Aug. 9, 2014, in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson.
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The fatal shooting of Brown by former officer Darren Wilson sparked sometimes violent clashes between protesters and police, unfolding before the nation on live television.
Brown's death helped spur a national "Black Lives Matter" movement that raised difficult questions about law enforcement attitudes toward minorities and the militarization of police.
In Ferguson, Michael Brown Sr. led a march on Saturday that started at the memorial on Canfield Drive that marks the site where Brown was fatally shot.
Time has not healed his wounds, Brown said before the procession, in which several hundred people, a drum corps and some cars joined in on the five-mile route to Normandy High School.
"At the end of the day, I still lost my boy," he said. "I'm still hurting. My family's still hurting."
Brown said the anniversary brings back all of the grief and raw emotions, but that it's important to continue standing up to concerns about police brutality and the use of force. As the parade began, he took an armful of stuffed animals and placed them in the middle of the street where his son died.
Brown is devoting his life now to his Chosen For Change foundation, he told CBS Radio station KMOX.
"Doing positive things, helping out with families and youth," he said. "Whatever I can do to empower us as people, that's my mission."
Although the protests were largely subdued during the day, they picked up after dark as hundreds marched outside Ferguson's police department, mocking the handful of officers who stood watch.
Some of the demonstrators carved and ate from the head of a roasted pig that had the name "Darren Wilson" written on the side. It was placed on a concrete barrier near the sidewalk separating the protesters from the officers.
The U.S. Justice Department and a St. Louis County grand jury cleared Wilson, who resigned in November, of wrongdoing. A separate Justice Department investigation of Ferguson's justice system found evidence of a profit-driven court system and widespread racial bias by police.
Onlookers were mostly scattered in small clusters on Saturday. Ferguson interim Police Chief Andre Anderson stood alongside St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar and Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol on West Florissant Avenue -- the site of protests, looting and riots in the aftermath of Brown's death -- waving to parade participants and shaking hands with some.
A vocal group of about 30 people marching in the parade began chanting "Hands up! Don't shoot!" as they neared the officers, then "Pigs in a blanket fry like bacon." Otherwise, the crowd was peaceful. Police presence was limited mostly to officers at intersections keeping traffic away from the parade, and there were no immediate reports of confrontations.
Darius Simpson, 22, made the trip to Ferguson from Eastern Michigan University for the weekend and was in the parade. Simpson, who is black, said he had never been an activist until Brown's death, but said a visit to Ferguson last year during the height of the unrest changed him.
"Something snapped in me, seeing the memorial, seeing how Ferguson reacted inspired me to take it back to Michigan," Simpson said.
Marches were planned later Saturday in St. Louis and on Sunday, again starting on Canfield Drive. The Sunday march will stop just before noon for a moment of silence to mark the moment Brown was killed.
St. Louis resident Carlatta Bussey, 41, brought her 7-year-old son. "I wanted to show him he needs to stand up for what he believes in," said Bussey, who is black. "It's important for him to know he has a voice."
Brown's father said a lot of families in the St. Louis area and across the nation are hurting because they've lost loved ones to police violence. Though some groups are pledging civil disobedience in the St. Louis region, Brown urged everyone to mark his son's death in peace.
"No drama," he said. "No stupidity, so we can just have some kind of peace."
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