At Ferguson memorial, reflection and anger at fatal encounter

Fri Aug 22, 2014 5:26pm EDT
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By Nick Carey and Edward McAllister

FERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - Ever since a white police officer shot dead an unarmed black teenager nearly two weeks ago, De'Joneiro Jones has found himself drawn again and again to the makeshift memorial that has grown at the site of the violent encounter.

"This has become the epicenter of racial tensions in America," said Jones, 40, an abstract artist who lives in St. Louis. "This was just an explosion that was waiting to happen."

Jones took off his sunglasses for a moment to wipe his eyes, then donned them and added: "I just hope maybe this could be the last tragedy of its kind."

The killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9 has sparked sometimes violent protests, laying bare long-lingering racial tensions in the United States and prompting international condemnation of the clashes between police and demonstrators.

On the sleepy two-lane street in a working-class apartment complex where he was shot, the memorial to Brown sums up the conflicting feelings stirred by his death: a yearning for reconciliation but also continuing anger.

Alongside soft toys, a wooden cross leans against a tree on the side of the road bearing the words "Love your neighbor and you would love yourself." Other signs say "Pray for light" and "Pray for truth."

But below those a large white placard reads "Beware killer cops on the loose, watch out children."

A line of red roses on the street stretching some 150 feet (45 meters) leads from the memorial to the main road where protesters have gathered nightly.   Continued...

Two men stand over the makeshift memorial for Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 19, 2014. REUTERS/Joshua Lott