Sunday brought a “Unity Rally” for “Justice for Michael Brown” in Ferguson, Missouri, at which MSNBC’s Al Sharpton told the crowd that they are “liberators” and pleaded with them to stop the looting. Yet not everyone was conciliatory during the event.
The event held at the Greater Grace Church in Ferguson featured Sharpton, Martin Luther King, III, Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, and several others who joined the Brown family to exhort the community toward calm. However, there were also dire warnings and some tough talk issued from the dais.
At one point in the proceedings, Sharpton told the community to consider themselves to be “liberators,” not looters and urged them to stop the rioting. “Don’t loot in Michael’s name. We are not looters. We are liberators. We are not burners. We are builders,” he exclaimed.
At the same time, Sharpton warned that Ferguson could be a “defining moment” in America and yelled, “We are not going to shut up. We are going to come together and have a real peace in this country.”
“These parents, they’re not going to cry alone… we have had enough,” Sharpton warned in a tone juxtaposed with his earlier conciliatory words.
When he came to the podium, Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson assured the crowd that “Michael Brown’s family’s still weeping, and they’re on their knees praying. We need to thank [God] for the change He’s going to make.”
But Brown family spokesman Darryl Parks was in a less forgiving mood. “Michael Brown shouldn’t be on trial,” Parks insisted. “The person who shot him should be on trial.”
Family attorney Benjamin Crump riled the crowd with comparisons of the Brown case to that of Trayvon Martin, a Florida teen who was shot and killed by a civilian in 2012.
“They tried it with Trayvon. Now they’re trying it with Michael,” Crump growled from the podium.
Martin Luther King, III, also agitated for changes in the legal proceedings. King claimed that the local prosecutor should recuse himself from the investigation and called for a new investigator to be appointed.
Another feature of the rally was a call for donations for the Brown family. Hundreds of dollars were brought to the rally as donations to help the Brown family, and at one point it was announced that Michael Brown’s siblings will get “full scholarships” and funds of $10,000 each to college when the three are ready to attend.
Meanwhile, the Missouri Highway Patrol, the agency Missouri Governor Jay Nixon directed to take control of the area, announced it is keeping its midnight-to-5-AM curfew in effect in the city again tonight.
Finally, as Americans are wont to do, one enterprising man was selling “Don’t Shoot” T-Shirts among the crowd outside the Greater Grace Church. He was asking $10 each for them.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.