On the fifth anniversary of his son’s death, Michael Brown Sr. started the day with a call to action. As the nation and world watched to see how Ferguson would be commemorated by those who lived it, Brown held a press conference and requested that the case involving his son's death be reopened.
“I stand here today to discuss how unsatisfied I am with the way my son’s death was handled,” Michael Brown Sr. said. “I am demanding evidence to be analyzed, and accountability to follow.”
He delivered his remarks near the entrance of the St. Louis County courts building in Clayton Friday morning, where newly elected St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell’s office is located.
“This is not an attack [on Wesley Bell], but I do believe processes need to be speeded up,” Brown said. “The evidence does not match up. Everyone covered things up – everyone up to the guy that used to sit in this office.”
Brown referring to former St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch – who made the decision not to indict former Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson in November of 2014 for fatally shooting unarmed teen Mike Brown on August 9, 2014. The elder Brown’s words came two days after the one-year anniversary of Bell’s historic win against McCulloch – becoming the first ever African-American St. Louis County Prosecutor.
In a statement to St. Louis Public Radio, Bell declined to comment on Michael Brown Sr.’s request.
“Out of respect for the family and their tragic loss, as well as how sensitive this is to so many people in our region, we don’t feel it appropriate to give any further comment at this time,” Bell told St. Louis Public Radio.
In a statement released earlier this week, Bell said his office is continuing to work with local officials to tackle systemic changes.
“Our office is doing everything we can to understand the underlying issues that contributed to the tragic death of Michael Brown,” Bell said. “We are working every day with the community and law enforcement to implement policies and reforms that meaningfully address those issues, and help this community and this region heal.”
Brown told the crowd that he has been forced to cope with the absence of his first born and only son – and no one being held accountable for his son’s death has been the most difficult part of the process.
“Mike Mike lay in the street for four and a half hours. As he laid there, he was dehumanized and disrespected,” Brown said. “As parents, neither of us were able to hold him or identify his lifeless body. We got no answers, no apologies and no justice. I will never grasp the fact that my son will no longer be here and justice has not been served.”
He referenced Jason Pollack’s film “Stranger Fruit” more than once in the brief press conference – saying that the documentary proves that there was systemic cover up and that Wilson should face criminal charges.
“It’s unbelievable to his parents and its embarrassing to the city that ‘Stranger Fruit’ has been out for a year and the nation knows the truth – yet this city chooses to do nothing,” Brown said.
After his remarks, Brown took a few questions – during which he reiterated that he does not have any problems with Bell.
“This is not an ambush on Wesley Bell – I definitely respect this man,” Brown said. “Hopefully he can see something that was flawed, and we can reopen this case.”
When asked about the impact of his son’s death – and the unrest that occurred as a response, Brown says that he doesn’t feel that enough reform has taken place.
“My son was not the first to die at the hands of those who vowed to serve and protect him. Sadly, he won’t be the last,” Brown said.
He said that there are still “black and brown bodies are still being found on the ground,” as a result of police violence.
“As a father, I vowed to protect my children. But on August 9, 2014, that wasn’t the case,” Brown said. “I could not protect him that day, and it breaks my heart. [But] I will stand and fight until the day I die for justice.”
Information from St. Louis Public Radio contributed to this report.