The city of Ferguson announced on Wednesday that a permanent memorial plaque will replace a makeshift memorial for the late Michael Brown, nine months after he was fatally shot by a former police officer. City officials also clarified that contrary to previous reports, the city is not funding the project.
On what would've been Brown's 19th birthday, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III joined Brown's father, Michael Brown Sr., in unveiling the small steel and gold plaque and gold dove. It features a picture of Brown wearing his graduation mortar board alongside a heartfelt inscription by his family that begins with "I would like the memory of Michael Brown to be a happy one."
Contrary to reports, the plaque will not be drilled into the road on Canfield Drive, where Brown was killed on Aug. 9. Instead, according to the city's spokesperson, Jeff Small, the plaque will be placed just off of the sidewalk on private property as part of the city's plans to resurface Canefield Drive, ultimately replacing a makeshift memorial that the Brown family agreed had become a fire hazard.
"The only thing the city is doing is once those [makeshift] items were removed, the street is supposed to be repaved right there and it would've taken place yesterday but it was raining all day," Small told The Christian Post on Thursday.
Yesterday, the makeshift memorial (made-up of toys and flowers) was removed after the Brown family, along with city staff and the apartment owners in that area agreed that it was no longer safe. A permanent plaque honoring Brown will replace it and Small said that apartment owners on Canefield Drive are funding the repaving and plaque installation.
"The city is making arrangements for the repaving, but again, only with the apartment owners paying for that, because that takes man power and money ... several thousand dollars to do the repaving and the city did not feel like it should be responsible for paying that so the apartment owners agreed to do that," he said. "The city has been involved in these efforts for months but the city has never taken the lead or forced anything."
In response to reports claiming the plaque will be drilled into the road, Small reiterated: "that's not true ... it's going to go in an area just off of and right up against the sidewalk. Not in the street, not paid for or arranged by the city. This is all in the family."
For months, the Brown family has been in discussions with the city in a bid to determine what exactly to do with the makeshift memorial, which had started to mold. The Brown family is said to have made their own arrangements to remove and store the makeshift items yesterday.
"We've always been involved in discussions with 'what do you do with it,' but we also understand that many taxpayers were concerned city dollars not be spent on anything to do with that. We have maintained all along that while we will participate in these discussions … we will not designate city money to be used for this and we've kept that promise," Small said. "The city is going to do the work, but only with the other folks footing the bill for it."
Last month, the Brown family was left devastated after a memorial tree planted in memory of the late teen was found vandalized just hours after it was planted.
Also in April, Brown's parents filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the city of Ferguson, which could potentially open a new investigation into the late teen's death.
Attorneys for the Brown family said the civil lawsuit could bring to light new evidence in the case that could disprove the Justice Department, the Ferguson Police Department and witnesses' testimony that officer Darren Wilson was justified in fatally shooting the unarmed teen. Wilson, along with former Police Chief Thomas Jackson, is also named in the lawsuit which seeks $75,000 in damages.
Small declined to comment on the lawsuit because "it involves pending litigation."