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Mourners gather in St. Louis for Michael Brown funeral

Posted: August 25, 2014 at 10:35 a.m.

Photos surround the casket of Michael Brown before the start of his funeral at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis, Monday, Aug. 25, 2014. Brown, who is black, was unarmed when he was shot Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo., by Officer Darren Wilson, who is white. Protesters took to the streets of the St. Louis suburb night after night, calling for change and drawing national attention to issues surrounding race and policing.

ST. LOUIS — Hundreds of people lined up in sweltering heat Monday to say goodbye to Michael Brown, the 18-year-old shot and killed earlier this month in a confrontation with a police officer that fueled almost two weeks of street protests.

More than an hour before Brown's funeral was to begin, a steady stream of people started filing into the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis. Among them was 63-year-old Will Acklin, a black man from Little Rock, Ark.

"It's important in that as a child I was pushed by police, mistreated by police, cursed by police, and I was a good kid," said Acklin. "I was an honor student. When I heard this, I felt compelled to come here and show my respects."

Angela Pierre, a machine operator who once lived in Ferguson, where the shooting happened, said she hopes the funeral helps turn a page and eases tensions. Most importantly, though, she hopes it provides healing for Brown's family.

"I really wanted to just be here today to pray for the family and pray for peace," said Pierre, 48. "When all of this dies down, there still a mother, father and a family who's lost someone. Sometimes a lot of the unrest takes away from that."

The church's sanctuary, which seats about 2,500, was filling quickly. Two poster-sized photos of Brown were near the casket, along with another photo of him as a small child.

Brown's father, Michael Brown Sr., has asked protesters to take a break Monday and observe a "day of silence" so the family can grieve.

"Tomorrow all I want is peace," he told hundreds of people Sunday in St. Louis' largest city park during brief remarks at a festival that promotes peace over violence. "That's all I ask."

Early Monday morning, Brown's request appeared to be honored. At the Ferguson Police Department, where a small but steady group of protesters have stood vigil for two weeks, a handmade sign announced a "break for funeral." The West Florissant Avenue commercial corridor was also devoid of protesters, whose ranks have typically swelled as days turned to nights.

Brown was unarmed when he was shot Aug. 9 by officer Darren Wilson. A grand jury is considering evidence in the case, and a federal investigation is also underway.

Read Tuesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for more on this story.

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