ST. LOUIS (CBSNewYork/AP) — Rev. Al Sharpton spoke to more than 4,000 mourners on Monday at the funeral for Michael Brown, the unarmed teenager shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri earlier this month.
Thousands of people filled Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis to say goodbye to 18-year-old Brown. Some mourners entered the church holding their hands up in a symbolic gesture, CBS 2’s Danielle Nottingham reported.
Photos: Michael Brown Funeral
In his eulogy, Sharpton called Brown’s death a seminal moment in the country. He said the nation needs to come to terms with the fact that something is wrong in America when money is provided to give military equipment to police, but there isn’t enough money for public schools.
Sharpton also said police officers who are wrong need to be dealt with.
Brown’s father asked for a day of peace and calm while his son was laid to rest. Days of violent protests and clashes with police followed the teen’s shooting on Aug. 9.
Brown’s uncle, Bernard Ewing, described the young man as a “big guy, but a kind, gentle soul.” He recalled his nephew once telling the family that someday his name would be known by the wider world.
“He did not know he was offering up a divine prophecy at that time,” Ewing said.
Another uncle, pastor Charles Ewing, said during his eulogy that Brown’s “blood is crying from the ground, crying for vengeance, crying for justice.”
Eric Davis, one of Brown’s cousins, urged the crowd to go to the polls and push for change, saying the community has had “enough of the senseless killings.”
As CBS 2’s Marlie Hall reported, Brown’s stepmother said that he was looking forward to a bright future.
“He wanted to go to college, have a family, he wanted to be a good father, but God chose differently. I’m at peace with that because he’s not a lost soul, his death is not in vain,” Cal Brown said .
Brown was unarmed when he was shot by officer Darren Wilson, who is white. A grand jury is deciding whether Wilson will face criminal charges. The Justice Department also is investigating.
Police have claimed Wilson opened fire after Brown scuffled with the officer and charged at him. Witnesses have said Brown was shot while surrendering. An autopsy found Brown was shot at least six times.
Rev. Jesse Jackson, entertainment mogul Sean Combs and director Spike Lee were also in attendance Monday. President Barack Obama also sent three White House aides to the funeral.
The church’s sanctuary, which seats about 2,500, filled quickly. Overflow rooms holding another 2,000 were full, too.
With the church at capacity, many people could not get in and instead waited outside, crowded into shady areas on a day when the temperature was expected to come close to 100 degrees. Ambulance crews were on hand in case of any heat-related illnesses.
Poster-size photos of Brown, wearing headphones, were on each side of the closed casket, which had a St. Louis Cardinals ball cap atop it. Large projection screens showed a photo of Brown clutching his high school diploma while wearing his cap and gown. He had been scheduled to start training at a technical school two days after his death. He wanted to become a heating and air-conditioning technician.
Monday also marked the first day back at school for students in the Ferguson-Florissant School District. Classes were scheduled to begin Aug. 14 but postponed due to safety concerns.
School personnel have received training in how to deal with students who may be experiencing stress related to the shooting and its aftermath.
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