As citizens in and around Ferguson, Missouri, anxiously await a grand jury’s decision in the Michael Brown shooting case, the father of the dead teenager has released a video that sends one very specific message to anyone who wants to use the event as an excuse to commit violence or act out: Don't.
Michael Brown Sr. released the video Thursday, thanking his family’s supporters and urging everyone in the greater St. Louis area to avoid violence.
“My family and I are hurting, our whole region is hurting,” Brown says in the video, according to the Independent Journal Review.
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“I thank you for lifting your voices to end racial profiling and police intimidation,” he says. “But hurting others and destroying property is not the answer.”
Brown’s son, Michael Brown Jr., was fatally shot by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9. Some witnesses say the unarmed black teen struggled with Wilson and reached for the white officer’s gun before he was killed. Others say the teen was trying to surrender and had his hands in the air.
Brown was 18 years old.
The shooting sparked months of sometimes violent protests, as claims of racial profiling and excessive police force came to the forefront.
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A grand jury in the case convened Aug. 20 to determine if Wilson would be indicted in the shooting.
They meet again Friday in what could be their final session, according to USA Today.
“No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son's death to be in vain,” the still-grieving father says in the video. “I want it to lead to incredible change. Positive change. Change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone.”
CNN reports that even if the grand jury decision does come Friday, prosecutors may delay the release of the findings in order to give police time to prepare for what some fear could be another spike in violence.
But Michael Brown Sr. hopes their efforts won’t be needed.
“We live here together. This is our home,” he says in the video, closing out his plea. “We’re stronger united. Continue to lift your voices with us and let’s work together to heal to create lasting change for all people, regardless of race.”