The Parents Of Trayvon Martin And Jordan Davis Are Helping Michael Brown’s Family Cope

The families of unarmed black teenagers who died in high-profile cases have come to support and rely on one another.

Michael Brown Sr. yells out as the casket is lowered during the funeral service for his son Michael Brown in Normandy, Missouri, Monday, Aug. 25. AP Photo/New York Times, Richard Perry

It’s been over a month since 18-year-old Michael Brown Jr. was shot and killed in Ferguson, Missouri, by police officer Darren Wilson, and the Brown family have questions but few answers. Weeks ago, their attorneys filed a request for more information on Wilson’s police career, but they’re still waiting for it. A grand jury has convened in St. Louis County, but won’t decide whether to indict Wilson for at least another month or longer.

The slow movement of the case has the family questioning whether the public really gets what happened. “People really don’t understand that she lost her son,” Eric Davis said of his cousin, Lesley McSpadden, Brown’s mother.

Black families thrust into the media spotlight by the death of a loved one are forced to relive their loss over and over, both in court and in the public eye. They have few places to turn for solace and support, other than one another.

“There hasn’t been any real improvement [in Lesley],” said Davis, who visits McSpadden either at her home or her mother’s house every day after work. “We are still looking for answers. We don’t have answers as to anything about the officer, which is really really preventing us from moving on.”

The Brown family is not alone. Tracy Martin’s son Trayvon was gunned down by a man claiming self-defense in 2012, in an episode that captivated the country and cleaved it along racial lines. Among some supporters of George Zimmerman, the Florida man who shot the younger Martin but was acquitted of murder, school troubles and adolescent drug use became retroactive justifications for Trayvon Martin’s death.

Tracy Martin has become the unofficial leader of an exclusive club no parent would ever want to join: the black families who have to find a way to recover from their loss even as they navigate a complex legal system and watch their loved ones tried in the court of public opinion. Martin said he speaks with Michael Brown Sr. “every 10 days or so” since Michael Jr. was killed.

If you ask Tracy Martin what similarities he sees in the trials Brown’s family is now dealing with to his own experience after his son was killed, the number 44 comes to mind. It represents the number of days before Martin’s killer George Zimmerman was eventually charged with his death.

“It was 44 days before we got an arrest. And I still think it should have been an arrest on day one, hour one,” Martin said of Zimmerman. “It’s just unfair to the family to have to sit through days and weeks and know that the killer of their son is still roaming the streets.”

Unlike what has happened thus far in the case of Michael Brown Jr.’s death, the delay in Zimmerman’s arrest played a key part in Sanford, Florida, Police Chief Bill Lee taking a leave of absence and the first state prosecutor in Zimmerman’s case, Norman Wolfinger, recusing himself.

Following Zimmerman’s arrest, Wolfinger wrote in a letter to Florida Gov. Rick Scott that he was stepping aside to avoid ” even the appearance of a conflict of interest.”

In Ferguson, things have unfolded differently. St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch has repeatedly rebuked calls to recuse himself from the grand jury proceeding that will decide if Wilson is charged. McCulloch’s impartiality has been questioned by critics who charge that the loss of his father, a former police officer, who was killed in the line of duty when McColloch was 12, could prevent him from indicting Wilson. McCulloch’s office did not respond to multiple requests to be interviewed for this article.

Attorneys for the Brown family say Michael Brown Sr. and McSpadden’s only updates on the grand jury so far have been what the media reports. Attorney Ben Crump said that McCulloch’s office has made no effort to reach out to Brown Sr. and Lesley McSpadden during the grand jury proceedings.

Edward Magee, executive assistant to McCulloch, told BuzzFeed News that the prosecutor’s office contacted the family’s attorney initially and offered victims assistance services, which they declined.

Brown family attorney Anthony Gray said that after that initial call, McCulloch’s office never reached out to offer any sympathy for the family and they have not gotten day-to-day updates on the grand jury.

“I think the family respects the process. But they’re losing respect as the process drags on,” Gray said. “They’re at a complete loss as to why it takes so much time.”

“There is somewhat of a disconnect with the prosecutor’s office when the victims are young black males. I just think they cannot relate to the black males’ lives having value,” Crump said. “They are just so used to prosecuting young black men. This prosecutor isn’t even trying to make an attempt to demonstrate to the family that they are there for the victims, no matter who they are or what race they are.”

Sybrina Fulton (left) and Tracy Martin, parents of Trayvon Martin, speak at the Peace Fest rally in St. Louis, Missouri, on Aug. 24, 2014. Adrees Latif / Via Reuters

When Martin speaks to Brown Sr. though, he doesn’t ask him about the grand jury proceedings or the county prosecutor.

“I tell him I just want to reach out to you and make sure that you’re keeping up with your health,” Martin said. “He told me he was living day by day, taking it one day at a time. One day at a time.”

This week, Martin joined another father whose son was killed by gun violence at the retrial for 17-year-old Jordan Davis’ killer, Michael Dunn. Earlier this year, a jury declared a mistrial in the first-degree murder case against Dunn for Davis’ death.

“I’ll be heading up to Jacksonville to be with Ron Davis,” Martin told BuzzFeed News on Sept. 18. His wife Sybrina Fulton was seen accompanying Davis’ mother, Lucia McBath, into the Duval County Courthouse on the first day of jury selection. The judge made a point to ask the family not to interact with demonstrators — some carrying “Justice for Jordan” signs — and disrupt the court.

McBath is waiting to find out if she’ll get more than “partial justice,” as she puts it, in the death of her son Jordan Davis. But it’s likely news won’t come until two years after Davis was shot and killed in a Jacksonville, Florida, gas station parking lot.

On Nov. 23, 2012, Davis, a 17-year-old black teenager, was killed by 47-year-old white man Michael Dunn after an argument over loud music, in which Dunn said he feared Davis had a gun. Dunn’s lawyer argued that Davis’ friends had hidden a gun after the shooting. No gun was ever found, and Dunn was convicted of three counts of attempted murder for Davis’ three friends who were riding in the SUV with him and will serve up to 60 years in prison for the charges. But the jury hung on the charge of murder over Davis’ death.

Ron Davis (second from right) walks to the Duval County Courthouse with wife Carolina as Lucia McBath walks holding the hand of Sybrina Fulton before the start of the retrial of Michael Dunn on Monday, Sept. 22. AP / Florida Times-Union

As McBath prepares for the retrial to start this week, she has to grapple with a public that has largely moved on, believing justice has been served.

“A lot of people believe that Michael Dunn has been convicted and is in jail permanently,” McBath said. “But no, he hasn’t been convicted for Jordan’s murder.”

Last month, McBath contemplated going to Ferguson for Brown’s funeral, but decided to attend a hearing for Dunn instead. Ron Davis attended the services in St. Louis.

“I just sent a big floral wreath — I actually saw it on TV and was like, oh, there are my flowers. And I wrote the family a private letter,” McBath said.

McBath said that she and Davis’ father were lucky to have the time to heal privately that Michael Brown’s parents have not. “We were very blessed to have a private funeral. We didn’t have all the celebrities and VIPs there,” McBath said. “We fought hard for that.”

McBath and Davis managed to keep the media across the street from the church where the funeral was held and a few blocks away from the funeral home — far enough so that they wouldn’t block mourners.

But McBath said Brown’s parents won’t have that time to grieve like she had because “the consciousness of the country won’t allow them to.”

What’s next for McSpadden and Brown Sr. is deciding what role they want to take on in the aftermath. McBath said that Brown’s family will repeatedly get this question: What are you going to do about all this? But, she said, it is important for them to decide themselves.

“I have organizations calling me all the time that I haven’t heard much about. They call and they want me to show my face. First thing I say is call my assistant and send us your agenda, we want to know who you are,” McBath said. She has recently taken on the role of national spokesperson for the gun control group Moms Demand Action. “And then when I don’t get any of that, I recognize that these aren’t viable organizations. That will happen to them a lot.”

Two days before jury selection started in Dunn’s trial, McBath appeared alongside Michael Brown Sr. at a “No Guns Allowed: Fallout from Ferguson” breakfast hosted by Snoop Dogg, the League of Young Voters, Cashmere Agency, HandsUp United and AllHipHop in her hometown of Atlanta. McBath spoke about the importance of voter registration to the group, which included young people brought in from Ferguson called the Lost Voices who had participated in the protests following Brown’s death. Snoop Dogg, also in town to host the BET Hip-Hop Awards that night, made a brief appearance, much to the delight of the young people from Ferguson in attendance. “I think he was damn near late for the rehearsal the day of the show,” said Robert “Biko” Baker, Executive Director of the League of Young Voters and one of the organizers of the event.

Baker said Brown Sr., who spoke “intentionally very short,” was inspired by the group that came from Ferguson because of the need to go back to Missouri and keeping fighting.

“I appreciate all the support. I love y’all. I love y’all, I do not want this to happen to anyone else,” Brown said. “Nobody. No country, especially not here again. But I do respect all of y’all for the support.”

“I can tell from his body language where he’s at. His family is just wrapped around all this,” Baker said.

McBath said she hopes that Michael Brown’s parents overcome the feelings of frustration, anger, and emptiness that have accompanied her since her son was killed.

“Knowing that you feel like this is supposed to be a country that’s justice for all, and sometimes there’s justice for some and not justice for others,” McBath said. “I know exactly how helpless they feel.”

Lesley McSpadden reacts during the funeral services for her son Michael Brown at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis. Pool / Reuters

When Eric Davis goes to visit his cousin at night she talks about the good times too. And it’s apparent that Davis hopes that one day the family can share stories about how they preserved Michael Brown Jr.’s memory by navigating a winding and uncertain road to justice.

“[Lesley] talks about when he would come up from playing video games and say, ‘Mom, how you doing? You mad at me?'” Davis said. “She talks about when they were skating. Michael wasn’t really graceful on the skates and [Lesley] was trying to hold him up. He kept falling. They were laughing and joking about that. But more than anything, she has those times when she is upset, she’s sad, and she wants to have answers to those questions. I just tell her we have to remain the course. We have to stay vigilant.”

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Hollywood Twitter Fight Night!/TheRealStanLee/status/187769830127058946

Lots of cat-fighting between and among assorted Hollywood celebrities tonight.


I'm not your mom, buddy:)“@chrismonteith50: @TomArnold you eat dicks?”

— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) April 5, 2012

Isn't it a Shame ?! RT @GoToMichael You're beautiful great body&singer.Made lots of people happy w/your songs But gawd what an asshole u r

— Cher (@cher) April 5, 2012

My Give a Fuck is broken, But my Go Fuck Yourself is fully functional RT @sc5114: dude seriously? dont curse u give the black man a bad rap

— Chad Johnson (@ochocinco) April 5, 2012

I had an American P.S Education.R U a Racist:) RT @vincezzzZ @debimazar What? maybe your mom should have taught you english too 😉

— Debi Mazar (@debimazar) April 5, 2012

@tomarnold hey, how's that 'sobriety' thing working for you? In or out of rehab now?

— Roseanne Barr (@therealroseanne) April 4, 2012

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24 Epic Disney Secrets That No One Knew…Until Now. You Gotta Check This Out.

Because the animators spend an inordinate amount of time on each frame of each Disney film, they’re inevitably going to get bored. One way they alleviate this feeling of boredom is to insert little jokes and references into other Disney movies. That way, they’re both enhancing the experience and making the movie more fun for themselves.

Here are some little known Disney secrets to watch out for when you’re watching Frozen for the 68th time with your kids.

In “Brave” the witch who turns Merida’s mother into a bear has carved Sully from “Monsters Inc” into a log.

Dug from “Up” makes a shadowy appearance in “Ratatouille”.

The woman who voiced Malefecent in Sleeping Beauty…

Also voiced the Stepmother in “Cinderella”. They also kind of look the same, don’t they?

This specific frame in “Frozen” took 5 days to make. The mountains look good I guess?

Almost every Pixar movie mentions Apple because the company was partially founded by Steve Jobs.

The peddler at the beginning of “Aladdin” was supposed to be revealed as the genie. That’s why Robin Williams does the voice of both.

The muses of “Hercules” sing while appearing as marble busts during the song “I Won’t Say I’m In Love” positioned in the same way as the singing heads from the “Haunted Mansion” ride.

Mary Gibbs, the voice of ‘Boo’ in “Monsters Inc.” was a toddler during the making of the film. It was hard to get her to sit still in the studio so the producers recorded her playing and pieced together Boo’s lines using things she would say.

Ariel from “The Little Mermaid” is based of Alyssa Milano.

And Aladdin is based off of Tom Cruise.

In “The Lion King” tiger roars were used because lion roars are actually a little too quiet.

To save money, sometimes Disney had to recycle animations in different films.

The disguised Jafar from “Aladdin” actually makes an appearance in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”…

…as the escaped criminal who keeps getting caught.

The voices of Mickey and Minnie were actually a married couple, Wayne Allwine and Russi Taylor. According to Disney, Mickey and Minnie are just dating.

The reason many of the early Disney classics featured characters with mothers who passed may have been due to the guilt Disney felt about losing his mother. He bought his parents a home and a faulty radiator led to the death of Flora Disney.

Ursula the Sea Witch in “The Little Mermaid” is base off a popular 70’s drag singer named ‘Divine’.

Andy from “Toy Story” has a postcard on his bulletin board from Carl and Ellie from “Up”.

The vultures in “The Jungle Book” are based on The Beatles. They were supposed to be voiced by them too, but scheduling conflicts arose. (Why wouldn’t they be beetles instead of vultures though?)

Scar from “The Lion King” is worn by Hercules in a scene where he is heroically being painted on a vase.

The evil, toy torturing ‘Sid’ from the first “Toy Story” is seen as the garbage man in “Toy Story 3”.

Disney comments on Kristoff’s assertion that all men eat their own boogers at the end of the credits of “Frozen”.

The sorcerer from Fantasia’s “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is named Yen Sid, which is ‘Disney’ spelled backwards.

I’ve watched almost every Disney movie multiple times, but I never caught any of this stuff. Disney…way to go!

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Drudge: ‘ROGER AILES DEAD’; Statement posted from Elizabeth Ailes

Breaking news:

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Portraits Inside Portraits Send a Message About Celebrity Culture.

Syaiful A. Rachman, an Indonesian artist, created a series of celebrity images. These pictures are instantly recognizable by their subjects, with the images  becoming timeless in their own right. Think of the Abbey Road album cover, the publicity still of Bruce Lee in his white tank top, and others like them. Celebrity-themed art is nothing new, but Rachman’s twist on a traditional portrait provides a refreshing approach. 

The paintings show the faces of celebrities when viewed from afar. Upon closer inspection, you can see that Rachman painted them using hundreds of tiny human figures. The positions and clothing of the figures form the larger portrait. It takes a lot of work to do a straightforward portrait, but imagine the work in creating each one of those tiny people!

A detail shows the individual figures that make up the larger portrait.

The concept of these paintings invoke the idea that the average person—faceless, unseen and small—is ultimately responsible for others becoming iconic figures. Without popular support, celebrities would be nobodies like everyone else.

“Amid our glorification and idolatry of the sought-after crowd, it is easy to forget that it is the power of our favor that holds them aloft,” Rachman explains. It’s also part of a larger concept in his work, dealing with “mass culture” and what that entails. Despite the apparent facelessness of fans, each fan is an individual, and Rachman’s work reminds us that mass culture is “in fact much more profound and complex than we might think.”

All images via Syaiful A. Rachman

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20 Stages Of Getting In Shape, As Told By “American Psycho”

You’ll literally be slaying everyone at the gym.

1. So, you got a gym membership.

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2. And it came with a super intense personal training session.

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3. You were advised to start keeping a food journal.

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4. You heard it’s great to stretch in the morning, so you give that a try.

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5. And commercial breaks become a time to practice your form.

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6. You decide getting a gym buddy is the best way to hold yourself accountable.

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But somehow that buddy is always “out of town” when it’s time to work out…

7. You often notice the person beside you on the treadmill isn’t even sweating.

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8. Then, a random person volunteers to show you how to work a machine.

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9. The only time you sleep in, you have to rush to the crowded gym after work.

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10. But you can’t always leave the house to work out, so you resort to dated fitness videos.

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11. The gym is always playing terrible music.

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12. And your sweaty body isn’t the cutest under fluorescent lighting.

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13. Your skin starts to get weird from a heat rash you acquired running your first mile.

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14. And you’re hungrier than ever.

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15. Your friends are weirded out by how determined you are rain or shine.

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16. But you make new gym friends by giving lots of compliments to the super ripped people.

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17. Everyone is envious of how amazing you look.

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18. And you actually start to surprise yourself by how strong you’ve gotten.

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19. You feel a little guilty, but others just couldn’t beat you!

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20. Like, you’re literally slaying everyone else at the gym.

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Roll Call reporter angry over ‘sleazy’ characterization by ‘House of Cards’ actress!/RollCallAbby/status/436387386336219136

“House of Cards” actress Robin Wright accused D.C. reporters of sleeping with members of Congress in exchange for scoops.

“D.C. is more corrupt than Hollywood — it really is — it’s more sleazy than Hollywood … how much infidelity goes on,” she told Capitol File. Her source? A “senior person in the Obama administration.”

Roll Call reporter Abby Livingston said on Twitter that the allegation is “generally untrue.”

We don’t know anything about D.C. reporters’ sex lives, but if even half of what we have heard about Hollywood is true, Livingston has to be right. We hope.


Corey Feldman: Pedophilies rampant in Hollywood; he and Corey Haim their victims

Roman Polanski Arrested in Switzerland

I was abused as a teenager on the director’s casting couch, reveals Hollywood star Thandie Newton

9 Stars Talk About Their Sleazy Casting Couch Experiences

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