"We might look OK in the face, but we dying in the inside," Michael Brown's father said at the memorial service

By Claudia Harmata
August 09, 2020 08:00 PM
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Michael Brown
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Sunday marks the six-year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old Black man who was fatally shot by law enforcement in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014.

On Saturday, Michael Brown Sr. and his family attended a rally in Louisville, Kentucky, seeking justice for the killing of Breonna Taylor — the 26-year-old emergency room technician who was shot and killed by police in her own home.

“I can only imagine what the family goes through every day when they wake up not seeing those smiles. No talk. No hugs," Brown Sr. said at the rally while standing in front of a two-story mural of Taylor in Louisville's West End, according to the Courier-Journal.

"Those things will definitely kill you from the inside out," he added. "We might look OK in the face, but we dying in the inside.”

A memorial service with several guest speakers and performances was held on Sunday morning at Canfield Green apartments, according to KMOV. In the evening, the virtual Black Celebrities & Chosen Fathers Town Hall is scheduled to discuss police brutality and systemic racism. Brown Sr. is expected to speak at the event, as well as Rev. Al Sharpton, activist Shaun King, Chance the Rapper and Porsha Williams.

Meanwhile, in Ferguson on Sunday, hundreds gathered at a memorial held in front of an apartment complex on Canfield Drive, where Brown died, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Today, it's just still hard, said Brown Sr. "Over the years, going through and coming to this site, I was very angry."

Michael Brown Sr. attending Louisville Breonna Taylor protest.
WLKY News Louisville

Last month, St. Louis County prosecuting attorney Wesley Bell announced in a press conference that his office could not find concrete evidence to charge Darren Wilson — the former police officer who shot and killed Brown — with murder or manslaughter under Missouri law following a "reexamination" into the case.

According to Bell, investigators conducted a "five-month review" of the 2014 incident "because of the significance of this case to this community and because the family asked."

"Although this case represents one of the most significant moments in St. Louis' history, the question for this office was a simple one: Could we prove beyond a reasonable doubt that, when Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown, he committed murder or manslaughter under Missouri law," Bell said. "After an independent and in-depth review of the evidence, we cannot prove that he did."

The prosecutor added that his office does not intend to re-litigate the evidence in the case "out of respect for Michael Brown and his family."

However, Bell noted, "Our investigation does not exonerate Darren Wilson," adding, "The question of whether we can prove a case at trial is different than clearing him of any and all wrong-doings."

Brown was fatally shot on Aug. 8, 2014, during an altercation with the police. His body was left in the street for four hours.

The incident sparked protests in the city and led to nationwide discussions over systemic racism and police brutality. At the time, critics called the slaying an act of racial prejudice, but Wilson — who resigned from the force in November 2014 — said that he acted in self-defense.

In late 2014, a grand jury chose not to indict Wilson. The following year, the U.S. Department of Justice found insufficient evidence to prosecute Wilson and formally closed the investigation it conducted, stating in an 86-page report: “Wilson fired at Brown in what appeared to be self-defense and stopped firing once Brown fell to the ground.”

Brown's family filed a civil lawsuit against the city of Ferguson under Missouri's wrongful death statute in 2015. The family settled with the city two years later for $1.5 million, NBC News reported.

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

  • Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
  • ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.
  • National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond.