Michael Brown, Jr. was laid to rest on Aug. 25 in the midst of calmness the city of Ferguson, Mo. had not seen since Darren Wilson, a white police officer, shot the 18-year-old to death on Aug. 9.
Brown’s dead body was left to lie in the street for more than four hours due to an “alleged” short-handiness in Ferguson’s coroner’s office.
This, and the fact that Brown was reportedly shot multiple times by the officer while surrendering with his hands in the air set the city of Ferguson in a state of turmoil. Even neighboring St. Louis saw its streets flooded with hundreds of people protesting what many feel is an unjust killing and inhumane treatment of Brown’s remains.
The teen’s death attracted national attention, including many Austin residents.
“I do believe that the police officer should have been arrested.
From what was shown on the video, it looked like cold-blood murder,” said Austin resident Avis Ward.
Brown’s killing sparked looting, angry mob protesting, and police stand-offs that continued for weeks.
In regards to the looting, Ward said, “I understand the violence that’s going on, I’m just not in agreement with it. The rioting and the looting are just senseless to me. It takes away from the cause because we can’t take justice into our own hands.
It just reminds me of when Dr. King died and the Madison street burnings. You can’t burn down everything you have. Then you have nothing.”
The FBI launched an investigation in Brown’s shooting death. Civil rights leaders and social justice activists, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, are demanding justice and an unfettered investigation.
The protesters demanded that Ferguson’s county prosecutor, Robert McCulloch, recues himself because he is believed to have strong ties to the police and favors law enforcement in criminal cases.
Momma Kemba, a 73-year old Austin resident said, “I have grandsons and great-grandsons, and I am troubled when I see my children in the streets with their pants down and not knowing how to conduct themselves; but when a white police officer shoots a black unarmed teenager, he should be charged immediately.”
Although Brown had no criminal record, information about his less-than-stellar background and alleged prior brushes with the law surfaced.
“I don’t care what he did or done in the past, the police cannot be judge, jury, and executioner,” Kemba said.
“He deserves a chance to go to trial. The police officer had no right to do this, and they should not be going through a lot of changes before charging him.”
An Austin resident who wished not to be identified recalled her son who was killed by a gang member in a similar fashion as Brown.
“Some things are not for us to get justice for,” the resident said. “Sometimes justice is left up to God.
I believe in the word, and I think they should just turn it over to him.”
Longtime Austin resident Atiba Jali and his wife Tabitha said that Brown’s shooting is indicative of the fact that African-Americans are fighting a lot of the same battles they fought in the 1960s.
“We have lost a lot of the protections we had won, and now we must fight these battles again,” Tabitha said.
While Ferguson remains at rest now, protesters and people around the country are watching to see if justice will be served, or if another white man, police or otherwise, will be given a pass for shooting an unarmed black teenager.