Activists Protest Store Michael Brown Robbed, Demand Ownership Be Given To Them
Ferguson, MO – A group of protesters gathered outside the convenience store that Michael Brown Jr. robbed just before he was killed in a 2014 altercation with a Ferguson police officer have demanded that the property owners hand the business over to them.
The protesters have been planted outside the Ferguson Market and Liquor store since Aug. 9, which marked the fourth anniversary of the day Brown was killed as he attacked Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Jay Kanzler, an attorney for the store, said that the protesters managed to shut down the business for a week, but that it was able to reopen on Aug. 25.
No arrests have been made, police said.
The business came under fire in 2017, after police released surveillance footage that appeared to show Brown dealing drugs to store workers hours before the robbery took place.
Brown's mother claimed that the video was proof that Brown wasn't really robbing the store, and that he was just collecting on the debt owed to him from his drug transaction.
The video ignited claims of a police cover-up of Brown's drug deal, which was interpreted by some as proof that the shooting of Brown was unjustified.
“I do believe that, on many levels, had they turned over all the surveillance the outcome could have been possibly different,” protester Gina Gowdy said of the store, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
However, all of the surveillance was actually turned over at the time, and unedited footage showed that store workers never accepted any of the drugs the Brown was selling. Investigators also found no link between Brown's drug dealing and the robbery or shooting.
On Aug. 17, in an effort to quell the protests, Kanzler said he met with Michael Brown Sr., activist Anthony Shahid, attorney Anthony Gray, and state Rep. Bruce Franks to hear a list of the protesters’ demands.
The group ordered that the store owners “address Michael Brown Jr.’s character,” which they said was mischaracterized by the early-on release of store surveillance footage that showed Brown shoving a clerk and stealing cigarillos from the business, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
The group also demanded that the business close its doors for three days each year on the anniversary of Brown’s death, and that they establish a scholarship in his name.
The store was told to cease sales of the sleeping capsule “Dormin,” as well as any other products that people could use to get high, and that they must hire security personnel from a company owned by a black person.
Lastly, the group demanded that the business come up with ways in which they could give back to the community.
“It seemed like everyone in the room was open to working it out,” Ferguson Police Chief Delrish Moss told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It was a friendly, robust discussion.”
The store agreed to meet all of the protesters’ demands with the exception of the three-day store closure, Kanzler said.
They agreed instead to close the business on the anniversary of Brown’s death, and said they would provide a free barbeque to the community the day prior, he explained.
The store solidified their commitment in a letter to the protest group’s leaders.
In the letter, the store owners said they understood the community perceived that the business “played a role in fostering negative opinions of Michael Brown Jr. post-August 9th,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
“The Market understands that this perception has hurt the relationship it has enjoyed with many of its customers for years,” the letter continued. “It is hopeful that the Market can restore those relationships by taking meaningful steps to eliminate this perception.”
Despite the fact that the owners essentially agreed to everything the protesters demanded, the group’s leaders ultimately backed out of the agreement.
Now, the only solution they have deemed to be satisfactory is for the business to be sold to them, Kanzler told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The group has not made any formal offers to purchase the business, he added.