FERGUSON, Mo. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Protests and marches were held in New York and around the country Sunday, marking one year since the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown at the hands of a white police officer.
As CBS2’s Don Champion reported, the death of Brown, 18, set off weeks of unrest in Ferguson and nationwide protests. It also led to greater scrutiny of police departments and how officers interact with communities of color.
The march began at the site where Brown was fatally shot by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014. A grand jury and the U.S. Department of Justice declined to prosecute Wilson, who resigned in November, but the shooting touched off a national “Black Lives Matter” movement.
Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr., laid teddy bears at the shot where his son was killed.
“Personally it’s a loss, but it’s a lot of good that came out of what my son pushed, because he’s still right here with us,” Michael Brown Sr. said.
Wearing shirts bearing the younger Michael Brown’s picture and the words “chosen for change,” the Brown family then led the 4 1/2-mile march to Normandy High School, from which the teen had graduated.
Hundreds took part, walking along West Florissant Avenue where violence and looting rocked the community in the weeks and months following Brown’s death.
Gary Orr brought his 7-year-old grandson, Dashawn, to the march.
“We don’t think things like this should happen in America,” Orr said, adding that he told his grandson “to remain who he is; we try to teach him to respect police.”
In the year since Brown’s killing, the city of Ferguson has started making changes. Officials hired an interim police chief who is black and overhauled its municipal court system.
The Department of Justice found that the Ferguson Police Department had been unfairly targeted blacks and minorities. Still, many marchers say there’s reason to protest.
“The structures of white supremacy and racism that really have built this town and undergird this town (need to) be changed,” said marcher Deb Krause.
Multiple protests were also held in New York. Protesters gathered outside Barclays Center in Brooklyn to promote the “Black Lives Matter” movement, and about 100 people also gathered in Union Square late Sunday afternoon.
The modest turnout was acknowledged by some people – given the larger turnout in Ferguson, a town of 21,000, versus New York City, home to 8.5 million people in the city alone, CBS2’s Steve Langford reported.
Still, those who attended worked to keep alive Brown’s memory, holding signs calling for justice and change and highlighting other police-involved shootings that killed unarmed people.
Among those rallying in Union Square was Nicholas Heyward Sr., whose son was shot and killed by police in 1994.
“I’ve been out here on the street protesting and rallying for the last 21 years for justice for my son, 13-year-old Nicholas Jr.,” Heyward said.
Also Sunday, a die-in was held later back at the Barclays Center in Brown’s memory. Participants changed: “What’s his name? Michael Brown.”
Demonstrators also rallied in Harlem, invoking Brown’s name as it remains sad shorthand nationwide for police shootings of young black men.
Last December, protests spanned the country, including New York, over a grand jury’s decision last week not to charge Wilson.
A nationwide demonstration dubbed “#HandsUpWalkout” called on people to walk out of schools and businesses with their hands up at 1:01 p.m., the time when Brown was shot to death by former police officer Wilson, who has resigned from the police force.
The walkouts stretched from New York to San Francisco, and included Chicago and Washington, D.C.
In New York, about 200 people gathered in Union Square and then marched to Times Square. They said they were demonstrating to demand justice for Brown — as well as for Eric Garner on Staten Island.
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