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Michael Brown's family says he was a 'gentle soul'

  • The casket of Michael Brown sits inside Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church awaiting the start of his funeral on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014. Brown, who is black, was unarmed when he was shot Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo., by Officer Darren Wilson, who is white. Protesters took to the streets of the St. Louis suburb night after night, calling for change and drawing national attention to issues surrounding race and policing. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post Dispatch, Robert Cohen, Pool)

ST. LOUIS — Michael Brown's relatives said goodbye Monday to the 18-year-old who was shot and killed by a police officer, remembering him as a "gentle soul" with a deep and growing faith in Christianity and ambitions that one day "the world would know his name."

Thousands of mourners filled the massive Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis for the funeral, which began with upbeat music punctuated by clapping. Some mourners danced in place, and ushers passed out water and tissues.

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."

Brown's uncle, Bernard Ewing, described Brown 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 in his eulogy that Brown's "blood is crying from the ground, crying for vengeance, crying for justice."

Among the mourners was Will Acklin, a black man from Little Rock, Arkansas.

"It's important in that as a child I was pushed by police, mistreated by police, cursed by police, and I was a good kid," said Acklin, who is 63. "I was an honor student. When I heard this, I felt compelled to come here and show my respects."

Angela Pierre, a machine operator who once lived in Ferguson, where the shooting happened and fueled nearly two weeks of street protests, said she hopes the funeral helps turn a page and eases tensions. Most important, though, she hopes it provides healing for Brown's family.

"I really wanted to just be here today to pray for the family and pray for peace," said Pierre, 48, who is black. "When all of this dies down, there still a mother, father and a family who's lost someone. Sometimes a lot of the unrest takes away from that."


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