The Reverend Al Sharpton has come to St. Louis to join the family of Michael Brown in calling for justice and peace in the wake of the teenager’s shooting death Saturday by a Ferguson police officer.
Brown, 18, was shot Saturday afternoon. Authorities and witnesses differ in their accounts of the incident. It has sparked riots, looting and property damage in the days since.
Sharpton asks people protesting the shooting to remain peaceful to honor Brown.
“Don’t be so angry that you distort the image of who his mother and father told us he was,” Sharpton tells a crowd gathered in front of the Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis.
“The story around this nation has been an unarmed young, gentle man was taken from us on the weekend he was going to school. Some of us are making the story how mad we are rather than how promising he was,” says Sharpton. “Don’t be a traitor to Michael Brown.”
Sharpton says federal investigators should take the lead on the case, rather than conducting an investigation independent of that by the St. Louis County Police. He says local residents don’t trust local authorities.
“The local authorities have put themselves in a position – hiding names, not being transparent – where people will not trust anything but an objective investigation,” says Sharpton. “It is in the interest of everybody. It is in the interest of bringing the city together that you have a fair and objective investigation.”
Police in Ferguson have been criticized since saying Tuesday morning the name of the officer that shot Brown would not be released out of safety concerns, after saying on Monday that it would be released at noon. Sharpton and the attorney for Brown’s parents have both called for the name to be released.
Sharpton called on the community to rally around Brown’s parents.
“So that we end the mourning of these parents with justice and we move forward with real solutions,” says Sharpton. “We did not come to divide the city, we came to bring the city on one accord, but one accord means that we must have equal protection under the law.”
Brown’s father, Michael Brown, Senior, reiterated his call for an end to violence.
“I need justice for my son,” says Brown, Senior. “I need all of us to come together. No violence.”
Jessica Machetta contributed to this story.