Another week, another police murder of an unarmed black youth, this time in the St. Louis neighborhood of Ferguson, where 18-year old Mike Brown was due to start college on Monday before cops put ten bullets in him and left him dead in the middle of a city street. The police story: Brown was shot as he reached for a police firearm in the back of a police car.
Brown was found dead 35 feet from the cruiser at the scene.
The killing drew criticism from some civil rights leaders, and they referred to the 2012 racially charged shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by a Florida neighborhood watch organizer who was acquitted of murder charges, as well as the New York City man who died from a police chokehold.
"We're outraged because yet again a young African-American man has been killed by law enforcement," said John Gaskin, who serves on both the St. Louis County and national boards of directors for the NAACP.
The Rev. Al Sharpton called the shooting death "very disturbing" and the New York-based civil rights leader said he planned to go to Ferguson to meet with the family Monday night or Tuesday.
A few hundred protesters gathered outside Ferguson Police headquarters about the time the news conference was to begin. At one point, many of them marched into an adjacent police building, some chanting "Don't shoot me" while holding their hands in the air. Officers stood at the top of a staircase, but didn't use force; the crowd eventually left.
Protesters outside chanted slogans — "No justice, no peace" and "We want answers" — and some carried signs that read "Stop police terrorism" and "Disarm the police."
Critics have contended that police in the St. Louis area too often target young black men. Statistics on police-involved shootings in the region were not immediately available.
St. Louis County Police Department is in charge of the investigation. County Executive Charlie Dooley, who showed up at the protest Sunday to urge calm, said he will request an FBI investigation. U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson said Sunday that Attorney General Eric Holder had instructed attorneys in the department's civil rights division to monitor developments.
My father had "The Talk" with me when I was ten, growing up in North Carolina. "You can't lose your temper being who you are. You have to remain calm and always be yes, sir, no, sir, three bags full sir." It's advice I've taken to heart since then. It's advice I'd give my own children, should I ever become a father.
But Mike Brown is dead, and a weary country shrugs its shoulders and moves on.