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Ferguson residents, activists rebuild memorial to Michael Brown on eve of third anniversary

Ferguson residents, activists rebuild memorial to Michael Brown on eve of third anniversary


FERGUSON • More than two dozen people gathered here Tuesday night before the third anniversary of the controversial police killing of Michael Brown Jr. to rebuild a makeshift memorial in the spot where he died. 

"We can never forget this," Meldon Moffitt said to the group of area residents and community activists on Canfield Drive in the Canfield Green apartment complex. "This is ground zero." 

Cars drove around the group as they laid teddy bears and a heart-shaped balloon and lit candles in the street where Brown was shot by then-officer Darren Wilson, not far from a bronze plaque and dove installed in 2015 to replace past makeshift memorials. 

Some passersby shouted messages of support to the group, which included St. Louis 5th Ward Democratic Committeeman Rasheen Aldridge and State Rep. Bruce Franks Jr., D-St. Louis.

"I'm really delighted to see people come out here, it shows they haven't forgotten," Moffitt said. "As long as we support each other, all these lives — Mike Brown, Isaiah Hammett, Kajieme Powell, all of them — will be remembered." 

Moffitt has participated in demonstrations at the site "since day one" after Brown was killed, he said. Almost everyone at the memorial site Tuesday night had been there in the immediate aftermath, too, he said.  

"These are faces I recognize, faces I know," he said. "We're still out here letting our voices be heard."

"There are other people who got a lot of attention at that time, then they disappeared. Where are they now?"

Not much has changed in Ferguson since Brown's death, Moffitt said. 

"Where are the police and politicians tonight?" he said. "If they cared about the community, about making a difference, they would be here with us. They're a part of this, too." 

Tammie Holland and her daughter Meadow, 9, drove from their home in south St. Louis to visit the memorial Tuesday. The pair were in Ferguson in the hours after Brown's death, Holland said. They saw blood in the street.

"I had to be here," Holland said. "I thought, 'I still have a voice. If people see me standing maybe they'll stand up, too.'" 

The pair didn't know anyone would be at the site when they arrived, expecting to say a prayer and then head home. The presence of other people brought them comfort, Meadow said.  

"It means a lot to me to be out here together, and not alone," she said. 

The rebuilt memorial gave Holland mixed feelings, she said. 

"The wound is still fresh," she said. "Lezley (McSpadden, Brown's mother) has to drive by here everyday and has to see this spot and be reminded of what happened. I can't imagine her pain."

But the memorial also served as an important symbol, she said. 

"The community is still in mourning," she said. "This makes a difference." 

Chad Jackson was one of the activists who hit the streets in the immediate aftermath of Brown's death. 

"I consider this a historical site," he said. 

Over the past three years, Jackson has visited cities including Baltimore and Baton Rouge to protest fatal police shootings there and "watch police," he said. 

"Look what happened in all those other places," he said. "We haven't gotten any justice yet and we can't stop until things change."

He and his wife, Catrina, brought their 5-year-old son, Ashton, to the gathering Tuesday. Ashton held his mother's hand while they laid a teddy bear on the street. 

"It's so scary being the parent of a young black boy," Catrina Jackson said. "I hope that one day he won't have to deal with this. I want things to change for him."

EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story misspelled Lezley McSpadden's name. This version has been corrected.

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Reporter covering breaking news and crime by night. Born in Algeria but grew up in St. Louis. Previously reported for The Associated Press in Jackson, Mississippi and at the Wichita Eagle in Wichita, Kansas.

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