More than 2,500 mourners crowded Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis this morning to lay Michael Brown to rest, reports the AP, with another 2,000 in overflow seating and national television carrying the 18-year-old's funeral. Brown's casket was closed, with a St. Louis Cardinals cap atop it, notes the Post-Dispatch. His uncle, Bernard Ewing, recalled him as a "big guy, but a kind, gentle soul" in a service that the New York Times calls "deeply religious." The overarching message was one of change, with Brown's family members urging mourners to vote, and the Rev. Al Sharpton saying, "We are required to leave here today and change things. Michael Brown must be remembered for more than disturbances." Michael Brown Sr., wearing a tie bearing his son's image, had yesterday pleaded with protesters for "a day of silence so I can, so we can, lay our son to rest." Other highlights:
- Among those gathered: Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King III, Spike Lee, Rep. Maxine Waters, Rep. William Lacy Clay; family members of Trayvon Martin and Sean Bell; three White House representatives. Gov. Jay Nixon declined to attend "out of respect for the family."
- Sharpton on protesters who turned to violence, as per CNN: "Can you imagine, they're heartbroken, their son taken, discarded, and marginalized, and they have to stop mourning to get you to control your anger, like you're more angry than they are, like you don't understand that Michael Brown does not want to be remembered for a riot."
- The Rev. Charles Ewing, Brown's uncle who eulogized him: "Michael Brown's blood is crying from the ground, crying for vengeance, crying for justice. There is a cry being made from the ground, not just for Michael Brown, but for the Trayvon Martins, for those children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, for the Columbine massacre, for the black-on-black crime."