FERGUSON, Mo. — Mourners began lining up at a St. Louis church hours before Monday’s funeral of slain teenager Michael Brown. His father called for a day of calm.
“Please, please take a day of silence so I can, so we can, lay our son to rest. Please. It’s all I ask,” Michael Brown Sr. said at a rally in St. Louis on Sunday.
His son,18, died on August 9 after being shot by Ferguson, Missouri, police Officer Darren Wilson.
His death sparked days of violent protests in the St. Louis suburb. In the past several days, things have calmed down, and the town is slowly coming back to life.
Brown will be eulogized at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis. Family attorney Benjamin Crump will read a message from the Brown family.
Funeral organizers released a list Monday morning detailing guests expected, but not confirmed, to attend.
The list includes the Rev. Al Sharpton; Martin Luther King III and the Rev. Bernice King; the Rev Jesse Jackson; the families of Trayvon Martin and Sean Bell; and celebrities Spike Lee, Diddy and Snoop Lion.
The White House is sending three officials to the funeral, including one who attended high school with his mother.
One of them is Broderick Johnson, who leads the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper Task Force. He’ll be joined by Marlon Marshall, a St. Louis native who attended high school with Brown’s mother, and Heather Foster. Marshall and Foster are part of the White House Office of Public Engagement.
The service comes a day after about 100 friends and family members attended a viewing of Brown’s remains.
Brown’s mother, Leslie McSpadden, spent about 20 minutes alone with her son, Crump said Monday. Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr. then joined McSpadden for 10 minutes, followed by Brown’s grandmother, before other friends and family were welcomed in, according to Crump.
In an interview, the mother of slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin spoke about McSpadden, saying that Monday will be the “worst day of her life as a mother.”
“There is no words that can bring comfort to her as a mother by seeing her son in a casket,” Sybrina Fulton said.
Fulton appeared with McSpadden and Valerie Bell, whose son died in a police shooting in New York.
Brown’s mother said she feels her son’s presence.
“There’s something about the rain, something about it … I feel him,” she said.
Fulton told her: “He’s there, he’s watching over you.”
On Sunday, music flowed at a memorial at Greater St. Marks Missionary Baptist Church.
“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. always had music as an element of protest,” said the Rev. E.G. Shields Jr., who helped organize the event. “He knew there was a way that music helped soothe the soul.”
Two weeks after the shooting sparked violent protests, the mood turned more tranquil over the weekend, with smaller crowds and lots of music. Gone were police in riot gear and defiant protesters. The tear gas, rubber bullets and Molotov cocktails were nowhere to be seen, either.
In their place were clusters of officers, hanging around businesses, chatting with one another.
Race has been at the forefront of the tensions; Brown was African-American, and the officer who shot him is white.
Wilson’s supporters held a rally in St. Louis on Sunday, where organizers announced they had raised more than $400,000 for the officer.
St. Louis authorities have released details of the racial and gender makeup of the grand jury that started hearing testimony Wednesday. It is made up of six white men, three white women, two black women and one black man, said Paul Fox, the administrator for the St. Louis County Circuit Court.
St. Louis County is 70 percent white and 24 percent black, according to last year’s estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau.