26 Aug 2014

Mourners gather for Brown funeral

6:27 am on 26 August 2014

There is a strong police presence outside a Baptist Church in St Louis, Missouri, as thousands of mourners fill the church for the funeral of Michael Brown.

Lesley McSpadden stands before the casket of her son, Michael Brown.

Lesley McSpadden stands before the casket of her son, Michael Brown. Photo: AFP

The unarmed 18-year-old was shot dead by the police two weeks ago, sparking days of violent protests in the suburb of Ferguson and focussing attention on racial tension in the United States.

His father made an appeal for calm, and cousin Eric Davis said the family was standing up to express their anger and sadness at what has happened.

"We have had enough of seeing our brothers and sisters killed in the street, and they're speaking to those who are in charge right now, those who are in positions of power and saying 'hear our voice, we have had enough of the senseless killing'," he said.

The local police have been criticised for mass arrests and the use of heavy-handed tactics and military gear.

The authorities are braced for a possible flare-up around the funeral, although clashes between protesters and the police had significantly decreased in recent days.

The National Guard, brought in to help quell the unrest, has begun a gradual withdrawal.

The White House said it was sending three presidential aides to the service at a St Louis Baptist church, and a large turnout was expected both inside and outside.

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