Peaceful marches in the St. Louis suburb planned by day on Sunday were shattered that same night when gunfire broke out, sending protesters and police scattering to safety. An accused gunman, 18-year-old Tyrone Harris of St. Louis, was hospitalized in critical condition and in police custody. St. Louis County police said officers shot the teenager after he unleashed a "remarkable amount of gunfire" at them. Prosecutors charged Harris with four counts of first-degree assault on law enforcement, five counts of armed criminal action and one count of discharging a firearm at a motor vehicle.
Michael Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson on August 9th, 2014. On November 24, 2014, it was announced a St. Louis County grand jury had decided not to indict Wilson. On March 4, 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice cleared Wilson of civil rights violations in the shooting, finding that witnesses who corroborated his account were credible while those who incriminated him were not, and that according to the evidence, Wilson shot Michael Brown in self-defense.
Maria Hamilton is the mother of Dontre Hamilton. The 31-year-old man was shot and killed by former Milwaukee Police Officer Christopher Manney in April of 2014 -- four months before the death of Michael Brown. Maria Hamilton says it was a rally at Red Arrow Park in Milwaukee, a few months after her son's death, when she and others in Milwaukee stood in solidarity with Michael Brown's family that pushed her into action. She says she felt she needed to be in Ferguson on the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown's death. "I felt like I was in a war zone. It's overwhelming," Maria Hamilton said.
Overwhelming, but Maria Hamilton says she felt she had to be there. She says the anniversary of Michael Brown's death is also an anniversary of sorts for her. "I was awakened by the loss of Mike Brown because that allowed me and my family to see what protesting and rallying was about," Hamilton said. Hamilton described what she saw while in Ferguson. "Most of the police that I saw, they`re fully dressed in combat. They have their guns. They walk with their hands on their guns or on their club. When they speak to you, they speak with aggression," Maria Hamilton said.
Hamilton says she was able to visit with Michael Brown's family, and see the support they continue to receive from members of the community. "This community has shown the Brown family that -- yes, you all have started this movement. Mike was a seed that was planted in Ferguson, so their voices could be heard," Hamilton said. This trip has offered Maria Hamilton another realization: "We`re in a long journey for change. I don`t think it's going to happen in my lifetime -- where we can come together and there's no division," Hamilton said. Hamilton says she participated in the peaceful marches, prayers and the moments of silence in honor of Michael Brown -- but even at those events, she says she noticed plenty of "agitators" in the crowd.