FERGUSON • The memorial to Michael Brown on Canfield Drive has been removed and will be replaced by a plaque, Mayor James Knowles III and Michael Brown Sr. announced Wednesday.
Knowles said the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis will store the stuffed animals and other items that have formed the temporary memorial down the center of Canfield Drive since Aug. 9, when Brown, 18, was shot and killed there by a Ferguson police officer.
Flanked by newly elected Ferguson City Council members Wesley Bell and Ella Jones, Knowles and Brown said the plaque will be part of a new permanent memorial in the area.
In an interview after the news conference, Bell said the new memorial along Canfield will include the figure of a dove, and that Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, had been involved with the planning. The metallic dove and the plaque will be embedded in the sidewalk along Canfield.
Brown’s father said the stuffed animals and other items along the road had become a safety hazard.
Wednesday would have been Michael Brown’s 19th birthday. His family and community members gathered at the memorial around noon and began removing the items. By about 1:15 p.m., the street was clear.
Knowles said Canfield would be repaved this week. Lipton Property Management Co., the owner of Canfield Green apartments, is paying for the project. Funding for the plaque was arranged by the family, a city spokesman said.
“We understand this situation is not easy for all parties involved,” Knowles said in a news release. “This event will forever be a part of Ferguson’s history — but it is important that the community moves forward.”
He said that resurfacing is part of a larger redevelopment effort for streets near West Florissant Avenue. The mayor hopes the state and federal government can pitch in for the “Great Streets” initiative, which he hopes will bring jobs, construction and economic development to the area.
Despite the mayor’s comment that the items taken from the makeshift memorial would be stored, many of them appeared to have been put in a trash bin outside the Urban League’s office Wednesday night.
Pictures of trashed stuffed animals and candles were posted on Twitter by protesters who questioned whether there was ever a plan to store them. A Post-Dispatch photographer captured a photo of stuffed animals in a trash bin there.
Reached after those pictures were posted, Knowles reiterated that it was his understanding that the Urban League would be storing the items. As for the city, he said, “we didn't remove the items and we never took possession.”
Hours after the memorial was dismantled, Brown Sr. joined more than 100 others for a birthday party in honor of his late son at Greater St. Mark Family Church on Chambers Road.
A group of protesters and guests from the party cheered and chanted in the middle of Chambers Road, briefly blocking the street, and singing “Happy Birthday” and releasing balloons.
Brown and his wife, Cal, embraced the festive mood of the party, yet Brown added that he could not help but feel sad.
“I’m really broken,” he said in an interview.
But he added: “in order for us to move forward, I have to keep pushing in a positive direction and also make sure my son’s memory lives on.”
Brown thanked the protest group Lost Voices for organizing the party — a barbecue that featured a birthday cake with his son’s picture.
Beverly Jones, 52, of St. Louis, who said she has been a non-violent protester since Brown Jr.’s death, said she had no problem with removing the makeshift memorial and erecting a permanent marker at the site of his shooting.
“I’m fine with it,”Jones said. “I’m fine with whatever Michael Brown’s mother and father and family want to do.”
Margaret Gillerman of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.