Yesterday, the family of slain teenager Michael Brown and their attorneys incorporated a new organization: the Michael O.D. Brown We Love Our Sons & Daughters Foundation. The group's first order of business came today in the form of a plea from Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, and was titled "Regarding Unauthorized Use: Name and Likeness of the Late Michael O.D. Brown":
"I am asking all well-intentioned family members, neighbors, businesses, associations, organizations or individuals associated with social media or any activists or affiliated groups, and any and all Missouri politicians NOT to add any additional drama into our lives," she wrote in a statement. "We ask that no flyers, wearing apparel, print or video usage of Michael's name, image or likeness, be used in connection with a WRITE-IN candidate campaign."
The statement refers to the upcoming November 4 St. Louis county executive race between Rick Stream and Steve Stenger. Some activists feel that neither Stream, who is Republican, nor Stenger, a Democrat who's publicly stood by County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch, will address their concerns about racial injustice in Ferguson and the county. For many weeks, calls to "write in Michael Brown" have been heard at marches and county board meetings.
Attorney Norman Newmark, who is helping the McSpaddens and the Browns with their fledgling foundation, says the purpose of the group is to "help protect Mike's name," among other goals. He clarifies that his firm is working with the family strictly on the foundation, and that when it comes to the actual criminal case they are still being represented by Benjamin Crump and Anthony Gray.
"Basically we want to help folks in the community. We want to sort of heal the wounds that have been brought about by all this," Newmark tells Daily RFT. "We want to do it in a positive way help folks work together with the police in the future and also help the police do their job, get along better with the community, improve race relations. We also want to help kids who might otherwise go astray get on the right path."
That's obviously a manifold mission, but squashing the write-in campaign is square one.
As of yesterday, activist Zaki Baruti officially asked Michael Brown supporters to write his name in for county executive. This is from Baruti's website:
Steve Stenger, the Democrat candidate nor Rick Stream the Republican candidate have shown any moral leadership in the Ferguson crisis that has caused tremendous tension in this region and throughout the country: The Justice For Michael Brown Leadership Coalition will support the Write-In candidacy of Zaki Baruti. Zaki Baruti has a long history of seeking fairness and equal treatment for all citizens in this state and throughout the country. Although the November 4, 2014 General Elections is near, the Coalition has committed itself to making sure that all the citizens of St. Louis County will have an alternative to police brutality or " Business As Usual."
Newmark says the family is not advocating for any candidate, including Baruti.
"Vote however you want to. The family takes no position on the politics of it. We don't approve of the write-in campaign," he says. "We don't want to get involved in the political spectrum with Mike's name."
Hat tip to KSDK's Casey Nolen, who obtained the full statement and posted it on Twitter.
And here are the incorporation papers for the newly minted Michael O.D. Brown Foundation:
Email the author at Jessica.Lussenhop@RiverfrontTimes.com.