Michael Brown Sr., whose son's death in Ferguson, Mo. has sparked numerous protests against police killings in the Bay Area and nationwide, thanked the Bay Area for its recent demonstrations at a church service Sunday and urged the movement to continue.
“We've got a major fight going on,” Brown Sr. said before a crowd of more than 400 churchgoers who gathered in support of the Black Lives Matter cause at the Third Baptist Church in San Francisco, the site of a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1958.
“That's all we're doing, is standing up for our rights,” Brown continued. “Enough is enough. We've got to stand strong.”
The elder Brown's words capped off two hours of speeches and calls to action for equality by various community leaders, including Supervisors London Breed and Malia Cohen, and Rev. Dr. Amos Brown, president of the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP.
“San Francisco is not geographically Ferguson, but in terms of the psychological, social and political issues that impact the black community, San Francisco is Ferguson,” the reverend said of the city where Michael Brown Jr. was fatally shot by a white police officer Aug. 9.
The recent nationwide protests were spurred from grand jury decisions to not indict the officer in Brown's death, as well as in the case of Eric Garner, who was allegedly selling cigarettes illegally in Staten Island, N.Y., when he was choked to death by an officer.
Sunday's service followed protests in the Bay Area over the weekend as part of a national demonstration against police killings. Forty-five people were arrested Saturday in San Francisco and Oakland in the largely peaceful protests, though last week as protests in New York and Missouri died down, angry crowds in California continued to block traffic and clash with police.
While the Bay Area's commitment to the “Black Lives Matter” movement prompted leaders to draw awareness to the demonstrations Sunday, Amos Brown called upon protesters to not lose sight of their message.
“It leaves me uncomfortable with instances that I've seen [of] wanton, reckless violence done by perpetrators who are not there on a focused mission,” the reverend said.
Such measures for equality suggested by the religious leader include community-based policing and hiring more African American police officers in The City.
“We want to build from the ground up a criminal justice system to deal with mass incarceration in The City,” Amos Brown said.
Calling for an end to gun violence in communities was another message shared by speakers Sunday. Mattie Scott, president of the San Francisco chapter of the Brady Campaign whose 24-year-old son was shot to death in 1996, said the U.S. needs to find the “cure” to the “epidemic” of gun violence.
“My baby was raised in this church. He was baptized here, and he was funeralized right here,” Scott said, as members of the audience murmured in support.
Dr. Annette Shelton, second vice president of the San Francisco branch of the NAACP, said that her oldest grandson, now 28, survived a shooting in a case of mistaken identity on Halloween 2004. She said efforts such as a gun buy-back event over the weekend in The City are a step in the right direction to end gun violence.
Meanwhile, Brown Sr. was scheduled to visit other cities in the U.S. that have held demonstrations in response to police killings, including New York.
The Mission High School Black Student Union, in collaboration with other San Francisco public high school Black Student Unions, is also scheduled to hold a student-run rally today in support of the “Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter” movement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.