Families of Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin to join St. Louis peace rally
The family of Oscar Grant, who was killed in 2009 by a BART police officer, will join the parents of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown on Sunday at a rally to call for peace after weeks of racial tension rocked this St. Louis suburb.
“First and foremost, we have lived through this. The community stood with us. And we want to be a part of the community here and offer our advice and love,” said Cephus Johnson, Grant’s uncle.
Brown and Grant were both unarmed black men killed by white police officers, and both shootings sparked national outrage and escalated racial tensions in cities all across the country.
Grant was fatally shot by a transit officer at an Oakland train station on New Year’s Day 2009. Grant’s life and the shooting were depicted in the 2013 film “Fruitvale Station.”
Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, whose 17-year-old son, Trayvon, also was unarmed when he was shot and killed in Florida in 2012 by Neighborhood Watch member George Zimmerman, will meet with the Brown and Grant families at the 2014 Peace Fest in downtown St. Louis on Sunday.
Their son’s death had touched off protests in a number of U.S. cities. The case ended with Zimmerman being acquitted by a jury last summer.
Brown, 18, was killed Aug. 9 in Ferguson by a white police officer, Darren Wilson, igniting 12 days of protest.
A grand jury is looking into Brown’s death to determine whether Wilson should be indicted. Brown, although unarmed, was shot six times, according to a preliminary autopsy. Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr. have called for charges to be filed against Wilson in their son’s death.
The shooting has sparked immense national attention, and protests in Ferguson turned violent at times, with police firing tear gas at demonstrators, some of whom had thrown bottles at the police.
In Ferguson on Friday evening, small groups of protesters filed along West Florissant Avenue, making it the third night in a row of calm.
One protester, Shamir Maloney, arrived in Ferguson on Friday after driving with friends from their home in Cincinnati.
When asked why he traveled to Ferguson, Maloney said, “They needed my help.
“I’ve been watching this gone on for weeks. This can’t end. I wanted to come here and do my time and show my support,” he said.
Brown’s funeral is set for Monday at a church in St. Louis that seats about 2,500. An array of politicians, including Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), a St. Louis native, will be in attendance. The Rev. Al Sharpton will be among the speakers.
Earlier in the day, the St. Louis County Police Department said one of its officers, Dan Page, was relieved of duty and placed on leave after a video recording revealed a racist rant he delivered at an Oath Keepers meeting earlier this year.
In the video, Page is heard making disparaging comments against blacks, the LGBT community and President Obama.
In a statement, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar condemned the comments.
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