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Family of Michael Brown, Teenager Shot to Death By Ferguson Police, Talks About His Life

michael_brown_portrait_brother600.jpg
Jessica Lussenhop
Michael Brown at sixteen with his younger brother Andre.

Barely 24 hours after a Ferguson police officer shot and killed eighteen-year-old Michael Brown, his family wanted people to know two things.

First, that they would like anyone who is sharing photos of Brown's lifeless body laying in the middle of Canfield Drive to take them down. Right now they're everywhere -- on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, hashtagged with Brown's name. Celebrities like Souljaboy are sharing photos of the body.

"We don't want that out there," said Eric Davis, Brown's cousin. "His body was in the street for hours."

The second is that Brown was a shy, nonviolent kid who loved music and wanted to go to college.

"He was excited about life, and he was just so proud when he graduated, got his diploma. Everybody was," said Desuirea Harris, Brown's grandmother.

See also:
- Peaceful Protest for Mike Brown Before Riot Police and Looting Takes Over

- Ferguson Riots: North County Business Owners (Some Armed) Survey the Damage

michael_brown_family_scene600.jpg
Jessica Lussenhop
Michael Brown Sr., far left, visits the spot where his son died.

On Saturday at about noon, Brown was walking with a friend on the 2900 block of Canfield Drive when they came across a Ferguson police officer. Accounts differ about what exactly happened, but Brown ended up lying face down in the street in a pool of blood, shot repeatedly by the officer, a six-year veteran who has yet to be identified. Brown did not have a weapon. Witnesses at the scene told the media that Brown had his hands in the air when he was shot -- some described the shooting as "execution style." At a press conference on Sunday morning, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar gave the (very brief) official version of what occurred, accompanied by Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson, who did not speak. St. Louis County is in charge of the investigation. Here's what Belmar told reporters:

One of those individuals at the time came in as the officer was exiting his police car. Allegedly pushed the police officer back into the car where he physically assaulted the police officer. It is our understanding at this point in the investigation that within the police car there was a struggle over the officer's weapon. There was at least one shot fired within the car after that. The officer came back out of the car, he exited his vehicle, and there was a shooting that occurred where the officer in fact shot the subject, and the subject -- they were fatal injuries.

Belmar confirmed that all the shots fired came from the officer's weapon and that though he does not have the final count, Brown was struck "more than a couple" times. He also confirmed that Brown did not have a weapon. A medical examiner will have a report in the coming weeks.

The scene outside the press conference at the Ferguson Police Station was at turns angry, sad and chaotic. The most charged moments occurred when a rumor swept through the crowd that the boy who Brown was with when they encountered the police officer was found dead behind a Domino's Pizza. After a few tense moments, Chief Jackson tried to assure the crowd that those reports were false, and that though the boy hadn't yet been interviewed by St. Louis County police, he was alive and with his parents.

michael_brown_memorial600.jpg
Jessica Lussenhop
The memorial on Canfield Drive.

In the late morning, Michael Brown Sr. arrived outside the station with other family members, looking drained. "I just want justice for my son," he said.

"He wasn't a violent person. He was peaceful," said Elizabeth Spivey, Brown's aunt. "He was a gentle giant. He looked like he could really do something but he wouldn't. He was a big teddy bear."

Over on Canfield Drive, about ten minutes from the police station, two orange cones marked the place where Brown fell. An empty liquor bottle sat in the middle, crushed rose petals mark the street red.

Belmar's description of events didn't make sense to Brown's 21-year-old cousin, Anthony Livingston, a manager at the Family Dollar and a cook at Bailey's Range. He was standing near a growing stuffed animal memorial, holding his four-month-old son. Livingston said he was Brown's best friend.

"I can't believe it was him. It hurt real bad, because I gotta face his mother and his grandmother," he said. "He was just a kid. He had dreams, big dreams. All he wanted to do is make music."

michael_brown_photo_table600.jpg
Jessica Lussenhop
A photo of Mike Brown as a little boy, being kissed by one of his siblings. To the right is a jar he filled with rap lyric ideas.

Livingston walked Daily RFT down Canfield to the low-slung apartment buildings where Brown was living with his grandmother. In the dimly lit front room, the family spoke fondly of the teenager. Some of them sat on the couch that he used as his bed. They say he slept like a rock on it, despite his big frame.

After he graduated Normandy High School in the spring (a struggle, Livingston said, but Brown did it for his mother), Brown was spending his summer trying to figure out what the next step was. Livingston was trying to get him a job working with him at Family Dollar. Brown was also supposed to begin classes the next week at Vatterott College. He wanted to study music and sound engineering.

"He wanted to go there and do the music thing, he also wanted to go to another college because he wanted to play football. His coach at his school in Normandy said that he could do that, get into a college playing football," said Harris, Brown's grandmother.

michael_brown_diploma600.jpg
Jessica Lussenhop
Brown's diploma.

Livingston said that it had been a good summer so far for Brown. He'd graduated and seemingly overnight, went from a shy kid, kind of a loner who spent a lot of time playing PlayStation 3, to being obsessed with becoming a famous rapper. He said after Brown started getting positive feedback from songs he posted on social media -- ones he recorded in a studio set up in his grandmother's basement -- he started coming out of his shell. Brown worked tirelessly to put out more and more music. He chose the performing name "Big Mike."

"That's what I liked about him. I'm 21 but he was so wise and smart, I gravitated to him," said Livingston. "If he say he going to do something, he put his mind to it."

Even though he seemed to be going through a transformation, the family agreed that in general Brown was shy.

"He was quiet. He didn't have too many friends," says Livingston, who used to live right next door to Harris and Brown. "He used to tell me, 'Man, you're my only real homeboy.'"

"The only person he hung out with was her," chimes in Pam, a family friend, gesturing to Brown's grandmother who nods her head silently.

More and more people began to filter into the house. Alderman Antonio French came in briefly to inform Harris that somebody offered to pay for Brown's funeral. A local pastor and several helpers trooped in with cases of soda and hot takeout food. The pastor handed Harris an envelope with a check inside to help with whatever the family needs. Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, entered wearing dark sunglasses -- she didn't want to talk to the press and disappeared into a back room. Next came two young girls -- one, Livingston whispered, is Brown's girlfriend. When she started to cry, someone pulled her into another room and closed the door. Harris got up to join them.

michael_brown_lyricjar600.jpg
Jessica Lussenhop
Mike Brown's lyric jar.

After a few minutes, Livingston said the family was likely discussing what to do next, whether to get a lawyer and how to combat the narrative being put out by Ferguson police. He got up and brought back a jar. This, he said, is where Brown kept his rap lyric ideas. The jar was stuffed full of white scraps of paper with fragments of sentences, snippets of thoughts, written in loopy handwriting.

"My city why people so petty/I rised from the Dead/now you can't look me in my eyes," read one.

"Because you neva Believed in me GONE," said another.

And another: "Grandma raised me better than that."

Livingston brought out an iPad mini and started flipping through Instagram posts by celebrities like Russell Simmons, Souljaboy and Young Jeezy all talking about Brown. They posted things like, "I am Michael Brown."

"That's all he ever wanted! It's amazing because he was just talking about this the other day," Livingston half laughed. "'I want to be famous. I want to do this, I want to do that.' It's sad that this had to happen for him to be famous."

For more on the response to Brown's death, read our follow-up story about the peaceful Ferguson vigil that turned into a riot.

Email the author at Jessica.Lussenhop@RiverfrontTimes.com.

My Voice Nation Help
469 comments
OpinionsRUS
OpinionsRUS

The second is that Brown was a shy, nonviolent kid who loved music and wanted to go to college. ---what a hot mess...and what a lie.  I don't know if DW was right or wrong to shoot MB...and if he was wrong, I hope he gets what belongs to him...accountability.  But I DO know that MB was not shy--he was a bully...I saw it myself...and that's how I know...what a freaking lie for a mother to tell about her son.


johnathanmarley
johnathanmarley

It indeed is a saddening fact racism killed the teenage boy Michael Brown. An article has been published to pay him tribute by daawn.com at http://goo.gl/A80AMe. Do read it.

mark.roberson34
mark.roberson34

We Cannot Blame the White People any Longer

By Dr. William Henry 'Bill' Cosby, Jr., Ed.D.

They're standing on the corner and they can't speak English.

I can't even talk the way these people talk:

"Why you ain't,

Where you is,

What he drive,

Where he stay,

Where he work,

Who you be...".

And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk.

And then I heard the father talk.

Everybody knows it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You 
can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth.

In fact you will never get any kind of job making a decent living.

People marched and were hit in the face with rocks to get an Education, and now we've got these knuckleheads walking around.

The lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal.

These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids.

$500 sneakers for what?

And they won't spend $200 for "Hooked on Phonics."

I am talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit.

Where were you when he was 2?

Where were you when he was 12?

Where were you when he was 18, and how come you didn't know that he had a pistol? 
And where is the father? Or who is his father?

People putting their clothes on backward. Isn't that a sign of something gone wrong?

People with their hats on backward, pants down around the crack, isn't that a sign of something?

Isn't it a sign of something when she has her dress all the way up and got 
all type of needles (piercings) going through her body?

What part of Africa did this come from?

We are not Africans. Those people are not Africans; they don't know a thing about Africa.

I say this all of the time — it would be like white people saying they are European-American — that is totally stupid.

I was born here, and so were my parents and grand parents and, very 
likely my great grandparents. I don't have any connection to Africa, no
more than white Americans have to Germany, Scotland, England, Ireland,
or the Netherlands.

The same applies to 99 percent of all the black Americans as regards to Africa — so stop, already!

With names like Shaniqua, Taliqua and Mohammed and all of that crap...and all of them are in jail.

Brown or black versus the Board of Education is no longer the white person's problem.

We have got to take the neighborhood back.

People used to be ashamed.

Today a woman has eight children with eight different 'husbands' — or men or whatever you call them now.

We have millionaire football players who cannot read.

We have million-dollar basketball players who can't write two paragraphs. We, as black folks, have to do a better job.

Someone working at Wal-Mart with seven kids, you are hurting us.

We have to start holding each other to a higher standard....


A wise man's thoughts.

safesky19
safesky19

Darren Wilson did his job. Michael Brown committed a felony (giving some hard shit to a cop, how stupid can you get) and then ran away probably to return to finish it. Too bad when the actions of a criminal ends up in death. I prefer the criminal dead instead of the cop. Keep crying race discrimination all you want, that's not it. Committing crimes and blaming cops is just wrong. All wrong. Clean up your act. Darren Wilson will be used as a political scapegoat during an election year if he is charged with anything.

ivbkz
ivbkz

Shall we gather 'round the river!! ....to drown one another .....

smee
smee

WHY is EVERY ONE SO MEAN????

example: nral27609, copsonewilson, dead 5398, Jayme, on and on and on.....


What I have read is:


Michael Brown DID NOT STEAL ANYTHING!!!!  Look at the video, and READ what even the store owner says!!!  There was NO theft!


I'm white, I hate how good people are treated, whatever the hell color they are!

There are A LOT of WHITE A - - HOLES!!!  There are A LOT of BLACK A - -HOLES!

There are A - -Holes EVERY WHERE and every race, but there are also good people in every race!


Yes, a lot of black people are racists BUT SO ARE THERE A LOT OF WHITE PEOPLE THAT ARE RACIST!!!!


I didn't and still don't agree w/the OJ Simpson verdict....but, it doesn't make me prejudice about what I've read about the Ferguson incident.  From what I've read so far It seems to me this cop was WAY OUT OF LINE!!!!


These young men were walking in the street, the cop seems to have gone psychotic.


AND....why haven't the cops interviewed the young man that was w/ Michael?

(how STUDPID) that should have been done immediately.  They may have by now, several days later.  But I read by the 2nd (or 3rd) day the cops still had not interviewed the eyewitness.  Smells fishy to me.


Not all the black people of Ferguson are looting and acting crazy, most of them INCLUDING Michaels parents are practically begging for the violence to stop!

(all you negative people need to be informed before you start spewing out mean, hateful statements. 

My God, have any of you EVER lost someone that you love more than yourselves?  You need to show more respect for the family and friends of Michael (and to Michael) you don't even know him and you have already judged him....


So all of you ASSHOLES out there, get your facts straight, get you head straight and get your heart straight. 

You have got to be VERY young or VERY PREJUDICE yourselves.  (or maybe just a low IQ?)




Copsonewilson0
Copsonewilson0

Cops one, thug robber low life scum drug dealer 0.

The cop who shot him should be given a metal not listening to all this crap going on.

markie19
markie19


11 days ago

READ SEE THE FRIEND IN THIS VIDEO CLIP THAT HAS BEEN GOING ON MOST PEOPLE HAVE BETRAYED ME CAREFUL IT COULD BE YOUR SPOUSE AND YOU COULD NEVER KNOW OR YOUR BEST FRIEND OR YOUR DOCTOR -MINE I THINK WAS GOING TO LET THEM KILL ME-HE IS INVOLVED DR BEACH READ MARKIE MC NIGHT I NEED DR PHIL DR BEACH HAD A CON MAN IN HIS OFFICE THAT DATED PEGGY AND WAS ON DR PHIL-MY MEDICAL RECORDS WERE STOLEN TOO-WATCH YOURS READ MARKIE MC NIGHTEdit (in 6 minutes)

DeleteShare
DeleteShareLikeReplymarkie19Jul 20, 2014

est | Top Comments

markie1918 hours ago


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ownyourtruth
ownyourtruth

Does anyone know why he was living with his grandma and not mom and dad?  I think it matters.  He's obviously not the "gentle giant" people are making him out to be.  

jayme_franklin
jayme_franklin

I'm glad to see other whites speaking out. I have had it with blacks claiming everyone is racist whenever they break the law and/or don't comply with the police. And we, as white people, get blamed by blacks bc they don't take responsibility for their own actions. Look at their behavior after the shooting - burning, rioting, stealing, looting, etc. This is why so many whites send their kids to private schools and don't want blacks in their neighborhoods.

Eric Farlow
Eric Farlow

Everyone in here would have owned slaves in the 1800's

John V Johnston
John V Johnston

But those people didn't act like animals. Stealing and causing more problems just because.

John Moss
John Moss

The rft should pay for all the destruction after the first night because they are the primary one fueling the fire in ferguson. Never picking up that fing paper again.

Obama_Sucks
Obama_Sucks

Shouldn't have to die but guilty by association. Black people need to look inside and see how 90% of how people view them. May not be correct but "if the shoe fits" ?blacks have been a drain on society and this will continue until social perceptions are changed through actions. Al Sharpton perpetuates this stereotype and it will not improve until the black community steps up. Sorry but true! I feel sorry for Afro Americans. They are too ignorant to see why society views them all as criminals. What percentage are on disability? welfare? Food stamps? I'm tired of paying for these savages and so is the rest of the world.

Bill Garthe
Bill Garthe

I Pray for his parents for their loss. Michael Brown stole from a store and assaulted a 72 year old man, he was not the darling the media has made him out to be. There may be evidence he was in police car assaulting the police officer and then when outside of the car charged at him. We will know in time.

Russ Squeaky
Russ Squeaky

One does not have to have a record to be a criminal. Perhaps he did not deserve what happened but to make him a saint is a travesty.

Chris Hartman
Chris Hartman

So your saying it is free to advertise your business will full pages ads for free? So they call around different business and say hey you want a free ad in our paper ????

Thee Lovingcup
Thee Lovingcup

One persons word against a few witnesses. But you obviously stand with Darren Wilson... not exactly looking for the truth?

Flossie
Flossie

@johnathanmarley It's sad that you think racism killed this young man (not a boy). It's also sad that his parents are (neither of which were raising him) so disconnected. You can't strong arm rob a business owner and attack a police office fighting for and discharging his weapon and expect to just walk back to Grandma's house. Really?

add1dda
add1dda

@smee 

 "Michael Brown DID NOT STEAL ANYTHING!!!!  Look at the video"

Hey STUDPID,

I looked at the video multiple times. He stole a bunch of cigars. Stop lying for him and his accomplice!

Nicholas Stix, Uncensored

smee
smee

@nral27609 

it's a loss to his family, his friends and to the people that loved him.

Dead5398
Dead5398

@ownyourtruth  No he was not! Did you not see the Tobacco store robbery he committed just minutes before?

baptam311
baptam311

One day, you will understand! The hate you have for blacks is the same hate that white people (wealthy) have for you ( white trash). It's not about black vs white, it's about rich vs poor. I know you're white trash-because rich people don't have time to hate-they are to busy enjoying life. I bet- if you missed 2 pay checks, your children would be attending a public school and in 6 month your home would be in foreclosure. It's amazing that people like you are so full of hate! It's crazy because you are willing to destroy yourself to keep the black man down. I feel sorry for you, It's must be difficult to be hated by your parents. Either your father and/or your mother had a deep hate for you. Hate breeds hate!! Becareful about what you speak to the universe, because Karma is real. The hole you dig for a black person will be the same hole your children and/or grandchildren will fall into.

Dead5398
Dead5398

@jayme_franklin  The statement being made to date by the black community in Ferguson is - this is the way we are and exception have to be made for us.

jeannek6161
jeannek6161

This has to be one of the best comments I have seen so far..Thank you.


jones.marcelle
jones.marcelle

@Obama_Sucks I don't no who the hell you think you are speaking on black people the way you are I watch the news every dam day and I see more white people on there doing crimes then black and asa far as welfare the Mexicans has taking over that you dumb ass

baptam311
baptam311

Dumb Ass!! 47 million Americans receive food stamps. Of those 47 million people, 43 percent of them are white and 33 percent are black. Approximately 19 percent are Hispanic, 2 percent are Asian and the remainder are Native America.

jayme_franklin
jayme_franklin

He was likely a big dope smoker as well, since the cigars he stole are used by his kind to roll blunts.

ownyourtruth
ownyourtruth

I don't know if we will ever know the truth.  I believe the "witnesses" are jaded and will say they saw what they wanted to see.  I believe Darren Wilson to be smaller than this big kid - who cares what color he is.  We've seen him in action via the video and he is not boy scout.  I genuinely want to know why he was living with his grandma and not his parents.  I'm guessing his parents couldn't handle him so he was farmed off to Grannie.  Not to place blame, but where the parents while Michael was growing up - learning to steal?  Learning it's okay to push elderly men out of the way?  The police have used excessive force but for the love of God, when they are getting crapped on constantly, I don't know that I blame them.  I honestly don't.  The fact that this community's answer to the shooting has been rioting and looting shows me this community is in more need of authority now than ever.  

add1dda
add1dda

Were you? If you had any idea how stupid that line makes you sound, you'd die of shame.


Nicholas Stix, Uncensored

gkrawitz
gkrawitz

@baptam311  it's not a question of hate it's a question of values.having chidren you can't support being on welfare condoning petty crime and bullying (see video) excusing lack of core values walking in streets, not obeying adults or persons in charge stealing instead of low paying jobs. being enamored of gangs thugs violet rap music (what would ella fitzgerald) not wanting to speak properly always feeling- disrespected and acting on it.  get with the other minorities who emulate the best in society not the worst, and don't ever get a job.

jones.marcelle
jones.marcelle

@baptam311 I agree with you because if his dumb ass lost his job today were would he be? at the welfare office trying to get some help so that he can eat

vspooner
vspooner

Per capita is what matters: comparing the total number of blacks on the dole to the total number blacks in the US shows that their racial group is more welfare dependent...with no close second.

vspooner
vspooner

Except, dumbass, the black population is only 13% of the population, and, per capita, more blacks are on the dole than any other group. Marx's lumpenproletariat

baptam311
baptam311

Dumb Ass again!! There are 14 million welfare recipients in America. And despite what most people think, the majority are not Black.

The truth is, about 39 percent of parents on welfare are White, 37 percent Black, 18 percent Hispanic and 6 percent Asian, Native American or another race.

Flossie
Flossie

@jones.marcelle @baptam311 That's what welfare is for....helping you in a time of need....it is not suppose to be a "way of life". I think you got it backwards.

kimmy
kimmy

@baptam311 dumbass, only about 13% of America is black, so shouldn't their number be about 13% of whites? Your argument is uneducated 

vspooner
vspooner

Dumbass, again: per capita, there are more blacks on the dole than any other ethnic group. Total numbers are deliberately misleading, and you know it.

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