Michael Brown funeral: St Louis mourns Ferguson teenager

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Media caption,

As Aleem Maqbool reports, hundreds of people celebrated Michael Brown's life

Hundreds of people have attended the funeral for the black teenager killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri.

Mourners at the Friendly Temple Baptist Church in St Louis sang, prayed and remembered the life of Michael Brown.

Mr Brown, 18, who was unarmed, was killed on 9 August after being stopped by a white police officer for walking in the middle of the street.

His death sparked days of protests and violent clashes, but tensions appear to have eased in recent days.

Two poster-sized photos of Mr Brown were placed inside the church near the casket, along with another photo of him as a small child.

Those in the church sang, clapped and danced to gospel music before the service started.

'Senseless killing'

Mr Brown's family addressed mourners, describing Michael as a gentle soul.

His cousin, Eric Davis, said his generation had stood up to what had happened in Ferguson.

Image source, Getty Images
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Michael Brown's parents (far left and right) have called for calm and no return to the violence that marked the days after their son's death
Image source, EPA
Image caption,
Michael Brown's family said his generation were standing up to the violence they faced
Image source, Getty Images
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Funeral guests raise their hands in a gesture of solidarity with the unarmed teenager shot by police
Image source, Getty Images
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Mourners say they want to support the family of shot teenager Michael Brown

"We have had enough. We have had enough of having our brothers and sisters killed in the streets," he said. "Hear our voice. We have had enough of this senseless killing."

Addressing the mourners, civil rights leader Rev Al Sharpton said people had a right to protest without police intimidation.

"America is going to have to come to terms when there's something wrong, that we have money to give military equipment to police forces, when we don't have money for training and money for public education," he said.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon did not attend, while President Barack Obama sent three White House aides to represent him.

'There will be an uprising'

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Rajini Vaidyanathan speaks to mourners at the funeral of Michael Brown

The mood outside the church was peaceful and sombre, said BBC correspondent Rajini Vaidyanathan, in St Louis.

"We don't know the Brown family but our hearts empathise with them for their loss and the senseless violence," one mourner told the BBC.

But there is still anger in Ferguson, which has a majority black population, after the shooting by police officer Darren Wilson - who is currently suspended on full pay.

"If Darren Wilson is not charged, there will be an uprising," another mourner said.

A grand jury panel of residents has begun hearing evidence in the case, though the country prosecutor has said the process could take until October.

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Michael Brown Snr: "All I want is peace while my son is laid to rest"

Many residents have demanded that Officer Wilson should be arrested and prosecuted.

Witnesses have said Mr Brown was shot as he held his hands up in a position of surrender, while the police and supporters of Mr Wilson have said he fired during a fight with Mr Brown.

The response by the authorities, who flooded the town with hundreds of officers in riot gear and brought in the national guard, has been criticised as heavy-handed.

The authorities were also criticised for not being transparent enough in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, when they refused to name the police officer involved.

However, police also say the protests were inflamed by agitators who travelled to Ferguson from elsewhere, and that they responded to threats made against them and the firing of weapons from the crowd.

Ahead of the funeral, Michael Brown's father made a plea his plea for calm. He said on Sunday: "Tomorrow all I want is peace."

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Michael Brown was shot dead by a policeman on 9 August in Ferguson