The makeshift memorial for Michael Brown that had emerged following the fatal shooting that polarized the nation was cleared away today from the shooting site on the Ferguson, Missouri, street of Canfield Dr, where Brown lost his life. Volunteers showed up Wednesday — on what would’ve been Michael Brown’s 19th birthday — despite the pouring rain, carefully placing the mix of notes, stuffed animals, and other mementos into trash bags to move the items to a temporary storage facility,
The shooting death of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson on August 9, 2014 sparked outrage not only locally but globally over race relations between the African American community and police officers. Brown’s death was the catalyst for what would become known as the “Black Lives Matter” campaign in which protestors across the nation called for a change to perceived justice inequality and police brutality.
Officer Wilson’s story and witness testimony of the events leading to the shooting of Michael Brown varied. A grand jury later declined to file an indictment on the officer, prompting more protests, riots, and a civil lawsuit by Brown‘s parents.
The makeshift memorial had been erected in the middle of the street where Brown’s body had laid for several hours. While some community members were outraged at its removal, an unexpected proponent of the gesture was none other than Michael Brown’s father, Michael Brown, Sr, who feared that the memorial had become a safety issue.
Michael Brown, Sr., who displayed the plaque that will serve as a permanent reminder to the community of his son’s memory, stated, “He would have been nineteen years old. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about how I can help other young men to go forward in life.” Brown, Sr. stood with Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III, who announced the removal of the temporary memorial in favor of the permanent one.
The plaque featuring Michael Brown‘s picture, birthdate, and date of death, as well as encouraging words of favoring joy rather than sorrow, will be placed in cement near the site of the shooting.
While the memorialization of a son by a father seems like a logical step forward in the grieving process, it was met with mixed emotions as tensions still run high. Some felt the death of Michael Brown was being glossed over by the removal of the community placed memorial while others felt a public memorial was not warranted for Brown, who had allegedly roughed up a local store clerk and stolen a package of cigarillos prior to his confrontation with Officer Wilson. Regardless, Michael Brown, Sr. is just hopeful that the community and nation can heal, “We’re just really trying to move forward.”
What do you think about the permanent memorial for Michael Brown?
[Image courtesy of Joshua Lott/Getty Images]