Michael Brown's family hosts rally to remember teen shot by cop

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by ABC News

WHAS11.com

Posted on August 17, 2014 at 8:11 PM

(ABC News) --  A rally today at a church in Ferguson, Mo., the St. Louis suburb torn by demonstrations both peaceful and violent since the killing of an unarmed teen by a police officer last weekend, was "about standing up for our children," an attorney for the 18-year-old's family said.

"We're here to talk about standing up for our children, because if we don't stand up for our children, nobody will stand up for our children," attorney Benjamin Crump said.

The rally held at the Greater Grace Church was an attempt to bring the community together after the shooting of Brown last weekend, according to fliers distributed to Ferguson residents.

It was hosted by the parents of Michael Brown, but the two did not speak to the hundreds of people who gathered in the church. They took the stage with their lawyers, who spoke to the crowd.

Missouri Highway patrol Captain Ron Johnson, who is now overseeing security in the town, offered an apology for Michael Brown's death.

"I say that I'm sorry," he said. "I wear this uniform and I should stand up here and say that I'm sorry."

Ty Pruitt, Brown's cousin, spoke out against the police's release of a video allegedly showing the 18-year-old robbing a store shortly before he was shot. The release of the video has been crticized as an attempt to attack Brown's character.

"He was a human being, he was a younger cousin, he was a son. He was a uncle, a nephew. He was not a suspect," Pruitt said. "He was not an object. He was not an animal. But that's how he was killed."

The Rev. Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III, and Pastor Jamal H. Bryant of the Empowerment Temple also spoke.

The rally is also hosted by Sharpton's National Action Network and The National Bar Association.

In other developments in Ferguson today:

Feds Will Perform Autopsy on Michael Brown 'as Soon As Possible'

The Justice Department announced today that it will conduct its own autopsy on Michael Brown at the request of Brown's family.

"Due to the extraordinary circumstances involved in this case and at the request of the Brown family, Attorney General Holder has instructed Justice Department officials to arrange for an additional autopsy to be performed by a federal medical examiner," the Justice Department said in a statement released today.

The St. Louis County Medical Examiner has already released preliminary findings from its own autopsy. The findings concluded that Brown died from gunshot wounds. Justice Department officials will consider that autopsy in their investigation.

Brown's family also hired forensic pathologist Michael Baden to conduct an autopsy.

 First Night of Curfew in Missouri Ends in Tear Gas, Arrests

Police dressed in riot gear and armored vehicles used tear gas to disperse Ferguson protesters who attempted to stay on the streets past the state-imposed curfew.

Seven people were arrested for disobeying the curfew, the AP reported.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson said the escalated police presence occurred in reaction to reports that people had broken into a barbecue restaurant on West Florrisant Avenue.

One man was shot and critically wounded in the area, but not by police. Police are still searching for his shooter.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and curfew in Ferguson at a press conference late Saturday afternoon.

The curfew will run from midnight to 5 a.m., but the governor did not say when it will be lifted.

"This is a test, the eyes of the world are watching," Nixon said. "This is a test to see if this community can break the cycle of violence and replace it with peace."

 "I, all of us were thunderstruck by the pictures we saw," Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon told Martha Raddatz in an interview in Ferguson on ABC's This Week. "I mean, the over-militarization, the MRAPs rolling in, the guns pointed at kids in the street. All of that I think instead of ratcheting down brought emotion up."

The governor said during his interview that he was caught "off-guard" by the the Ferguson Police Department's decision to release surveillance footage of Michael Brown allegedly robbing a convenience store before he was shot and killed by a police officer last week.

 "We were unaware that they were going to release it and we certainly were not happy with that being released. Especially in the way that it was it appeared to, you know, cast dispersions on a young man that was gunned down in the street," Nixon said.

Rallies for Michael Brown Outside Ferguson Turn Violent

A peaceful rally to protest police violence in the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting last week turned into a violent demonstration after businesses in parts of Oakland and Berkeley, Calif., were looted.

Vandals spray painted storefronts and smashed windows, according to ABC affiliate KGO.

"They started throwing rocks at the buildings," Will Kreber, who owns a game store business, told KGO. "I understand their anger, but I don't know if this is the right way to go about expressing it."

Oakland police say one officer was assaulted and two other officers were pepper-sprayed during the riot.

Mark Davis, a bakery owner, says looters are unfairly targeting innocent businesses.

"I don't think they think of consequences. Their solution is to punish people who have nothing to do with it. We're thousands of miles away from it, Missouri, but I've got to pay $700 for a window to be replaced," said Davis.

The demonstrations in Oakland echo the demonstrations that occurred in 2012 against the shooting of Trayvon Martin. In 2012 protesters tried to march on California's interstate 880 but were stopped by police, according to the AP.

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