(PIX11) — When a grand jury revealed that it would not indict a Missouri police officer for the shooting death of an unarmed 18-year-old, the teen’s mother ran down the street with tears streaming down her face, and his father said he was “devastated.”
Fiery, violent protests erupted in Ferguson, where Brown was killed, and led to dozens of arrests. Demonstrators took to the street in major U.S. cities, including New York City where thousands marches from Union Square to Times Square calling for “justice” in the name of Brown.
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At a midday news conference, Brown’s family was joined by civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton and their lawyer Benjamin Crump to respond to the grand jury’s decision.
Sharpton and Crump both derided the prosecutor, who they accused of having a conflict of interest in his relationship with the local police department, saying he went easy on Wilson and “went out of his way” to discredit the 18-year-old.
“A first-year law student would have done a better job of cross-examining the killer of an unarmed person,” Crump said.
He called for the creation of a nationwide law that would require all police officers to wear on-body cameras.
The Browns' legal team vowed "subsequent" investigations but did not explain further.
"You have broken our hearts but you have not broken our backs," Sharpton told the crowd, chiding the prosecutor and denouncing violent protesters.
"Those who got violence last night ... do not express the spirit of Michael Brown," he went on to say. "... Those that burn are on their own side."
Earlier Tuesday, as their hometown burned and tensions flared across the country, Brown’s family called for peace.
Though the news conference was billed as the first time Brown's father would speak publicly on the matter, Michael Brown Sr. did not approach the podium because, Crump said, he did not want "raw emotions" to be used against him.
He did, through his lawyer, again call for calm.
"We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions,” Brown’s family said in a statement.
“While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen.
“Join with us in our campaign to ensure that every police officer working the streets in this country wears a body camera.
“We respectfully ask that you please keep your protests peaceful. Answering violence with violence is not the appropriate reaction.
“Let's not just make noise, let's make a difference."
The Mayor of Ferguson, John Knowles, criticized the decision to delay the deployment of the National Guard, as well as the decision to wait until nightfall for the Grand Jury's decision to be released.
"Unfortunately ... the National Guard was not deployed in time to save many of our businesses," Knowles said. "We were wondering about the wisdom of waiting for that decision at that hour."
Community and religious leaders and residents called for peace, healing and prayers for their bleeding city.
"It's about human life, not black white or polka dot," Helen Douglas Taylor, a teacher and Ferguson resident said. "Let's take an examination of ourselves ... change can happen with the grace of God."