US & Canada

Ferguson silence on Michael Brown's shooting anniversary

Media captionDemonstrators marked the anniversary by marching down the street where Michael Brown was killed

Several hundred people have paused in silence in the US town of Ferguson on the first anniversary of the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.

The four-and-a-half-minute tribute was meant to reflect the approximate hours that Mr Brown's body lay in the street. A march was also held.

The shooting of the 18-year-old by white police officer Darren Wilson sparked demonstrations across America.

It fuelled a national protest movement against racial bias by the police.

Activists and religious figures from across the country were among those who have gathered this weekend in Ferguson, a suburb of St Louis, Missouri.

The Reverend Osagyefo Sekou, from the Ferguson Action Council, told the BBC that last year's events had led to some positive change in the black community but not in society at large.

Image caption Michael Brown's father thanked supporters who had put the racial tension on the country's agenda
Image caption The crowd fell silent before starting a march towards a local church
Image caption In Brooklyn, New York, demonstrators staged a so called "die-in" protest

"We have not seen the kind of systematic change that is necessary, whereby every other day in America a mother is not writing the eulogy of her child which shall be the elegy of the nation," he said.

Those who gathered at the spot in the St Louis suburb where Michael Brown was fatally shot on 9 August 2014 saw two white doves released.

At the scene: Jessica Lussenhop, BBC News, Ferguson

Hundreds of activists and supporters gathered on Canfield Drive at 12:02 (17:02 GMT) to remember the exact time of death of Michael Brown. Joining the father, Michael Brown Sr, and his family were activist Bree Newsome, philosopher and academic Cornel West, victim Oscar Grant's uncle Cephus Johnson, "chokehold" victim Eric Garner's daughter Erica, and many more.

"This year has been so hard," said Ms Garner. "No accountability, no justice. Police are still killing us."

Michael Brown Sr made a few brief remarks standing at the spot where his son died.

The family linked arms and led a march down West Florissant Avenue, passing the shops that burned down in the civil unrest a year ago, to a local church. The atmosphere was sombre, and chanting was discouraged.

"It's hard to talk about. I just miss him," said Anthony Livingston, Michael Brown's cousin. "I miss his smile. His laugh."

How shooting sparked national protests

Speaking after the moment's silence, Michael Brown's father thanked supporters for not allowing what happened to his son to be "swept under the carpet".

He then led a march to a Ferguson church, pausing along the route at a permanent memorial for his son, where he said: "Miss you."

Later in Ferguson, several dozen protesters squared up to a line of police in riot gear.

St Louis County police tweeted that "multiple shots" had been fired and warned people to leave the West Florissant area.

An AFP journalist reported seeing one bloodied protester lying on the ground.

In the borough of Brooklyn in New York, some 100 protesters lay on the ground for four-and-a-half minutes to mark Michael Brown's death. Two were arrested. Another rally was later held in Manhattan.

The protests, which sometimes involved violent clashes between demonstrators and police, continued in Ferguson for weeks after the killing.

Image caption Michael Brown's killing sparked weeks of clashes

The protest movement gained fresh impetus in November, when a grand jury decided not to charge Mr Wilson.

Mr Wilson, who argued that he was acting in self-defence, resigned from the police force in November.

In March, a justice department investigation found evidence of widespread racial bias in the Ferguson police department.

The report led to several high profile resignations, including the chief of police.

Racial bias in Ferguson

93%

of people arrested are African Americans, whereas only:

67%

of Ferguson population is black

  • 96% of people arrested for outstanding municipal warrants are African American

  • 95% of "Manner of walking in roadway" charges were against black people

  • 90% of documented force was against African Americans

  • 30% of searches of white suspects resulted in a contraband finding - compared with 24% of black suspects

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The "Black Lives Matter" movement that emerged in the wake of Mr Brown's death has focused attention on the troubled relationship between black communities and police forces in a number of US states.

Another police shooting of an unarmed black man took place on Friday.

College football player Christian Taylor, 19, was shot dead after police were called to a possible burglary at a car dealership in Arlington, Texas.

Officer Brad Miller, who had never before fired his weapon in the line of duty, has been placed on administrative leave.

Buried beside Michael Brown - a special report

Within a roughly 30-metre radius of Michael's grave there are at least 15 homicide victims. The youngest was a 15-year-old. Most of them were shot. There are also deaths by suicide, cancer, car accidents, but for those under the age of 30, the predominant cause of death is homicide.

Young, black, dead: the other lives lost in St Louis