The stepfather of Michael Brown was the focus of some backlash Tuesday after a video showed him shouting at protesters, seemingly urging them to turn violent following a grand jury’s decision not to indict the white police officer who killed his unarmed 18-year-old stepson.
“Burn this [expletive] down,” Louis Head is heard shouting from atop a platform where he consoled Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden. “Burn this [expletive] down.”
The video was shot by a spectator in the crowd gathered outside the Ferguson police station after the grand jury’s decision. McSpadden briefly spoke out.
“I ain’t never had to go through nothing like this,” McSpadden said. Appearing angry and grief-stricken, she then covered her face with her hands and sobbed.
Head, wearing a T-shirt saying “I am Michael Brown,” moved to embrace her. Then he faced the crowd and shouted.
McSpadden and Brown’s father, Michael Sr., had both called for peaceful protests leading up to the decision.
But Monday night, businesses along West Florissant Avenue were burned and looted during hours of rioting; 61 people were arrested and 14 others were injured.
Some on social media commented that Head’s words may have helped incite the crowd.
Attorney Benjamin Crump downplayed the significance of the video Tuesday, citing the raw emotion of the moment.
“You don’t want to use the raw emotion of a family” in such a dramatic moment, Crump said.
Times staff writer Matt Pearce contributed to this report.