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Michael Brown's father seeks 'day of silence'

On eve of son's funeral, he tells a rally, 'all I want is peace. That's all I ask.'

The father of a black 18-year-old shot to death by a white police officer in Ferguson pleaded Sunday for a "day of silence" as he lays his son to rest Monday.

"Tomorrow all I want is peace," Michael Brown Sr. told hundreds of people in St. Louis' largest city park during brief remarks at a festival that promotes peace over violence. "That's all I ask."

The fatal shooting of the 18-year-old black youth by a white police officer, Darren Wilson, in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson on Aug. 9 led to days of unrest and drew global attention to race relations in the United States.

Brown Sr. told the crowd that he and his son's mother appreciate the love and support they've received from the community. The Rev. Al Sharpton, who will speak at the funeral on Monday, echoed his request for peace.

"We don't want anything tomorrow to happen that might defile the name of Michael Brown," Sharpton said. "This is not about our rage tomorrow. It's about the legacy and memory of his son."

Peace Fest 2014 was already in the works before Brown’s death but it took on new resonance in the aftermath.

The parents of slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin also spoke, urging the crowd to channel its anger into action by pushing to strengthen families and better educate youth and expressing support for the Brown family and the people of the St. Louis area.

"We're going to stand tall with you all," Trayvon's Martin's father, Tracy Martin, said.

Trayvon Martin, 17, was also unarmed when he was shot and killed in 2012. George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who said he shot Martin in self-defense, was acquitted.

The nightly protests in Ferguson have been mostly peaceful in recent days, a contrast to images of police in riot gear firing tear gas canisters at angry protesters in the days after the Brown shooting. Tensions briefly flared then subsided late Saturday night and early Sunday.

At the St. Louis rally, Kevin Harris, 40, a security guard who lives in the area, was sitting with his 11-year-old son Kameron in the crowd on foldout canvas chairs waiting for the Browns to arrive.

Harris wore a T-shirt with the silhouette of a man with his hands up and reading "Please Don't Shoot - R.I.P. Michael Brown" and Kameron was wearing a T-shirt saying "Hands Up Don't Shoot." 

"We all need to come together to stop the violence. All the violence, including black on black violence. We are our own worst enemy," Harris said.

In Ferguson, there were few protesters out in the boiling heat on Sunday as temperatures soared to above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Among those who braved the heat were about a dozen African-American women coming from church services and carrying umbrellas to protect them from the sun.

“We just wanted to come here and show our support for the Brown family, even for a little while because of the heat,” said Roberta Jackson, 65, a retiree. “This has all been such a shock to the community and it’s important to show we care even if we can’t stay long.”

Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, who was appointed by the governor to oversee law enforcement in Ferguson, said at a press conference held at 12:15 a.m. Monday that "it appears peace has been restored."

The calls to police were about the heat rather than requests to respond. "I belive the citizen of Ferguson have spoked for peace," he said. "I am happy for them." 

Meanwhile, the National Guard began a gradual withdrawal from Ferguson on Friday, but authorities remain braced for a possible flare-up of civil disturbances surrounding Brown's funeral at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis on Monday.

Wire services

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