The city of Ferguson, Mo., is officially honoring the memory of black teenager Michael Brown who was killed last summer in a confrontation with police officer Darren Wilson — a violent struggle that multiple investigations found resulted in a justified shooting that left Brown dead.
Though city officials made a point of saying they didn’t pay for the brass plaque that’s just been permanently installed in a sidewalk near the scene of Brown’s death, Ferguson dignitaries — including the mayor and several members of the city council — participated in the dedication of the ornate metal marker. The inscription on the plaque — which was reportedly bought with funds arranged for by Brown’s father — makes the teen sound like a model son tragically struck down in his bright and “sunny” youth.
The poetic words on the plaque, such as “the sun of happy memories that he left behind,” paint a picture far different than the numerous scenes of violent and destructive protests that tore apart the small Missouri city for many days in the turbulent wake of Brown’s death.
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“I would like the memory of Michael Brown to be a happy one,” reads the inscription. “He left an afterglow of smiles when life was done. He leaves an echo whispering softly down the ways, of happy and loving times and bright and sunny days. He’d like the tears of those who grieve, to dry before the sun of happy memories that he left behind when life was done.”
Brown’s father displayed the memorial plaque, along with a metal “dove of peace” that the city later installed in the sidewalk running through the Canfield Green apartment complex where the shooting took place.
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IJReview contacted a man identified as a former Virginia police officer, Chip Pierce, to get his reaction to the memorial honoring Michael Brown. The nine-year police veteran put into words what a lot of people are likely thinking.
I don’t think a criminal that was killed while assaulting a police officer deserves to be memorialized. It sends the wrong message. Every time people are paid to protest a supposed injustice before the facts are known we lose credibility in the justice system.
Michael Brown was a criminal, he had moments earlier committed or assisted with a strong armed robbery. When the officer approached, Brown attacked. The officer shot him in self-defense and it was proven to be justified by a Grand Jury.
He like many other people that attacked police officers lose their lives as a result, which isn’t something to be memorialized. There are police killings that cross the line. I do not believe this was one of them. I wasn’t on the grand jury and I’ve never been to Ferguson, so I don’t have all the facts, but trying officers in the media is not appropriate.
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