Rep. Cori Bush (D-Missouri) is inviting Michael Brown Sr., the father of Michael Brown, whose murder at the hands of a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, sparked mass protests in 2014, to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address this week.
As first reported by Politico, Bush is bringing Brown Sr. as her guest to the address, which is scheduled for Tuesday night.
“The police killing of Michael Brown in 2014 is what propelled me and many others into lives dedicated to building a world where Mike would still be here with us — a world where his life could not be taken from him. A world where Tyre Nichols and the thousands of other Black people killed by police could live long, healthy lives full of joy,” Brown said to Politico.
The killing of 18-year-old Brown — a Black teenager who was shot six times by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who eventually walked free after a majority-white jury failed to indict him — sparked over a year of protests in Ferguson and beyond. These protests helped form the foundation of the Movement for Black Lives.
“With each passing day, we remember Michael’s legacy: his love of animals and music, his commitment to family and community, his ability to deliver joy to those around him; and his spark of a global movement in defense of Black lives,” Bush said in a statement commemorating the eighth anniversary of Brown’s death in August. “I carry the mandate St. Louis sent me to Congress with; to never back down in our fight to save lives and end systemic police violence.”
Bush has continually spoken out about Brown’s killing. Before coming to Congress, Bush was an activist on the streets of Ferguson and an organizer with the Movement for Black Lives. Michael Brown Sr. has also become an outspoken activist in the years since his son’s death.
“It’s a full-time thing. My mother told me I was always going to be a preacher or a teacher, and I ran from it, and sadly it got thrown in my lap the way Mike left this earth. I had no choice but to have a voice. But I have accepted it. This is what I have to do. This is my life,” Brown Sr. told GQ in 2020, after a wave of protests emerged across the U.S. following the murder of George Floyd.
“I am his father. We share the same name. I finally got all my strength to withstand this pressure on my back,” he continued. “I still have people that think I can save this world. I know I can’t. But I try to give advice. I know he’s proud of it. And I’m still proud of him from the grave.”
Following the death of Nichols, who was killed in January by five police officers who beat him to death during a traffic stop, members of the Congressional Black Caucus have been pushing for changes to policing and urging Biden to speak out in favor of police reform during his address.
It’s unclear, however, what types of reform lawmakers have called for — often, measures for police reform give even more funding and power to law enforcement, exacerbating issues of over-policing, police impunity, and militarization of law enforcement.
Indeed, lawmakers in the Senate had tried to work on a supposed bipartisan police reform agreement after the footage of Nichols’s death was released, but the negotiations reportedly included proposals to allocate more resources to police trainings — trainings that would only further empower police and attempt to placate activists without providing real solutions.
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