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Family, friends, activists rebuild memorial to Michael Brown on eve of fourth anniversary

Family, friends, activists rebuild memorial to Michael Brown on eve of fourth anniversary

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FERGUSON • Next to the teddy bears, balloons and flowers, Michael Brown Sr. placed a small white ceramic gnome, the type his son once bought him as a joke.

It was one of many memories on his mind Wednesday as he and a few dozen others gathered in Ferguson on the eve of the fourth anniversary of his son’s death. The group rebuilt a makeshift memorial on the site where the younger Brown was fatally shot by then-Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson four years ago.

“This is where everyone came together, stood together and stayed together,” Brown said. “They hurt together, they persisted together, they loved together. They bonded as family. Hopefully, that love can spread out of here and bring love to all of St. Louis.”

The group laid roses in the street, lit candles and placed teddy bears around a nearby bronze plaque and dove installed in 2015 to replace past makeshift memorials. They greeted one another with hugs, some tears and some laughter.

And they celebrated a victory: the ouster the night before of longtime St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch by Ferguson Councilman Wesley Bell in a stunning upset. Protesters had long criticized McCulloch for his handling of the grand jury inquiry into the killing of Brown; many organized and campaigned for Bell and other candidates.

Bell, who promised to reform the criminal justice system, earned 57 percent of the vote for the Democratic primary, tallying 24,084 more votes than McCulloch, according to unofficial results. With no candidate from any other political party in the race, Bell, 43, will run unopposed in November.

While in past years activists have said not much has changed in Ferguson since protests over Brown’s death, activists at Wednesday’s gathering expressed confidence that Bell would bring change.

“The fact that we have to come out here and do this is shameful, and it hasn’t stopped,” activist Michael Hassell said, referring to other fatal police shootings. “But now we’re putting the right people in office to make sure our efforts in the streets aren’t in vain.”

Bell said tying his victory only to Ferguson failed to explain the effectiveness of his campaign but acknowledged Ferguson’s role in his political success, saying he was “a product of that evolution.”

“He wants to see the same change that we’re fighting for,” said Meldon Moffit, a longtime Ferguson protester. “I support the man 100 percent.”

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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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