The father of a black 18-year-old shot to death by a white police officer in Ferguson pleaded Sunday for a “day of silence” as he lays his son to rest Monday.
“Tomorrow all I want is peace,” Michael Brown Sr. told hundreds of people in St. Louis’ largest city park during brief remarks at a festival that promotes peace over violence. “That’s all I ask.”
The more than two weeks since Michael Brown’s death have been marked by nightly protests, some violent and chaotic, although tensions have eased in recent days.
Brown Sr. told the crowd that he and his son’s mother appreciate the love and support they’ve received from the community. The Rev. Al Sharpton, who will speak at the funeral, echoed his request for peace.
“We don’t want anything tomorrow to happen that might defile the name of Michael Brown,” Sharpton said.
Peace Fest 2014 was already in the works before Officer Darren Wilson shot Brown Aug. 9.
The parents of slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin also spoke, urging the crowd to channel its anger into action by pushing to strengthen families and better educate youth.
“We’re going to stand tall with you all,” Trayvon’s Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, said.
Trayvon Martin, 17, was also unarmed when he was shot and killed in 2012 by a neighborhood watch volunteer.
The nightly protests in Ferguson have been mostly peaceful in recent days. Tensions briefly flared then subsided late Saturday night and early Sunday.
Niesha Thomas, who attended Peace Fest, said she hopes the event marks “a new start” in which people put “irrelevant, unproductive” disputes behind them.
But that might not be so easy. A grand jury has started considering the case, and some residents are concerned that a failure to return an indictment against Wilson could stoke new anger in the community.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon reiterated his support Sunday for sticking with St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch despite concerns voiced by some.
“He was elected overwhelmingly by the people a number of times. He’s been through a lot,” Nixon said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Certainly, with this level of attention, I think everyone will work hard to do their best work.”