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Ferguson Shop Owner 'Overwhelmed' By Community Support After Looting

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FERGUSON, Mo. -- Sonny Dayan owns a cell phone store that was looted early Saturday morning amid protests related to the death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. Police released a video Friday allegedly showing Brown robbing a convenience store, sparking fresh outrage in the already tense town. The Ferguson police chief said on Friday afternoon that Brown was not stopped in connection with the alleged robbery, but rather because he was walking in the middle of the street.

Here’s Dayan's story:

We left at 7:30 p.m. Nothing was happening. It was quite quiet. There were a bunch of police across the street at the liquor store. At that point I assumed I’m probably the safest store around -- I had 60 police officers across the street from my shop.

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Sonny Dayan in his cell phone store, which was looted early Saturday morning.

We got some advisements from people from the neighborhood that said that they heard something, that you know maybe I should board it tonight. But I just didn’t believe it. I’m here 17 years. ... So I had faith in the community, and indeed it wasn’t the community -- it was just a couple of, you know, bad guys, I don’t know what to call them. But they were drinking all over the store. They stir drinks, they come here, vodka was everywhere, soda was spilled everywhere. I mean you should have seen the store this morning. Man, a mess!

So in that sense I was a little surprised. I’m not used to somebody robbing me, coming into my establishment and staying there as long as they need to and deciding when they want to leave, not when it’s time to leave. ... There’s been four break-ins in here, so it’s not my first time, and it’s not a big deal. But most of the time it’s minor, a door here, a door there, they call Ferguson, they come here, they save the day. This time around, the alarm company called Ferguson and said there’s movement inside the store, the officers said we can’t do anything. There’s riots going on and there’s troopers out there.

I had to immediately come over here, and I tried to get into the area. I couldn’t get into the area because the whole area was blocked. And I was like, 'People are robbing my store, can I just go and put some boards on it?' They did try, but then in the middle they changed their mind and said no, it’s too risky or something, please wait. They took my information and told me they’re going to call me as soon as the area is clean. That was about 1:45, 3:45 a.m., I’m just waiting.

Nobody calls me, so I just decide to come over. So I get here around 5, 5:30 a.m. There are a few people outside, some reporters were outside too, but the whole store was open, people could come in and out and take what they want at their leisure.

So that’s on the sad part. The good part is the people who were out here were waiting outside, they wanted to help me. So as soon as I got here, they said ‘Can I help you? Can I do this, can I do that?’ I wanted to take my time and clean as part of my therapy, as part of dealing with the situation. But some of them would not leave unless they did something to help, unless they got a hug or something. So that was very overwhelming, I didn’t think I’d come in there to be so overwhelmed by the community. So that’s very sweet.

I want to go back to normal. I’ve got to pay bills. I don’t have the luxury to be closed for weeks.

I don’t have a big insurance on this place. The whole concept of the store is modesty. So our prices are modest, we are alternative, so we’ll sell you a cheaper phone or a phone you would buy somewhere else, we’ll sell it to you a lot cheaper.

So we don’t have fancy-shamancy insurance because we don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on insurance. ... I’ll be covered for my expenses, the damages aren’t that extensive, thousands, maybe $5,000, $6,000. Manageable. We’ll live. It’s not the end of the world.

I just want things to go back to normal somehow. Wait for that positive to float and stay afloat, you know. Right now you see it, you know they’re there, a lot of good folks in the neighborhood, you see there here and there, but you will hope that they will come out and stay out.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misspelled Sonny Dayan's last name.

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USA Today's Yamiche Alcindor provides an intimate look at how Michael Brown's parents have been dealing with the loss of their son:

Phones constantly ring with reporters asking for interviews or family members offering support. Last week, as demands reached a tipping point, both parents moved into hotels to shield themselves.

In the days leading up to the funeral, Brown's mother continued to cry and spoke in whispers as she tried to explain her feelings.

"They say tomorrow is going to be the hardest day, but I think today was — just seeing my baby laying there, cold," Lesley McSpadden, 34, told USA TODAY. "It did something to my heart. It's too much. It's too much."

Read the rest at USA Today.

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New audio has surfaced that allegedly captures the moment when Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot dead by Darren Wilson, a white police officer, on Aug. 9.

CNN aired the unverified recording on Monday night. Six shots can be heard, followed by a pause, then several more. A private autopsy performed on Aug. 17 at the request of Brown's family found that the 18-year-old was shot 6 times, including twice in the head.

Read the rest here.

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USA Today reporter, Yamiche Alcindor shares photo of program which includes tributes to Michael Brown from his mother and father

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08/25/2014 11:57 AM EDT
Program For The Funeral
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08/25/2014 11:04 AM EDT
Noteworthy Funeral Attendees
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08/25/2014 10:58 AM EDT
Waiting For Brown's Family
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08/25/2014 10:57 AM EDT
Police Captain Ron Johnson Arrives
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08/25/2014 10:45 AM EDT
Mo. Sen. To Attend Funeral
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08/25/2014 10:37 AM EDT
Casket In Place

MSNBC reports:

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08/25/2014 10:35 AM EDT
Funeral Security
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08/25/2014 10:33 AM EDT
Brown's Father Asks For Peace
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MSNBC reports:

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08/25/2014 10:26 AM EDT
Hands Up
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08/25/2014 10:22 AM EDT
Sanctuary Filling Fast For Funeral

CNN reports:

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Missouri congressman Lacy Clay (D) said on Thursday that he had "serious concerns" about the prosecutor in charge of Michael Brown's case.

"I also have serious concerns about the local prosecutors, about their ability to fairly prosecute this case in the interests of justice. To deliver justice to this community, or to Michael Brown's family. And I say that because we have a track record," Clay told CNN.

Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch has come under heavy scrutiny in the days following Brown's death. Critics say that McCulloch's ties to law enforcement will cloud his judgement and have called on Governor Jay Nixon (D) to appoint a special prosecutor instead. A petition against him has received over 70,000 signatures.

McCulloch's father was a police officer killed in the line of duty.

For his part, McCulloch has promised that his investigation will be fair and thorough. In a statement, he said:

I have no intention of walking away from the responsibilities and duties entrusted to me by the people of this community. Additionally, there is no basis in the law to do so. I have faithfully and fairly carried out those responsibilities and duties for more than two decades and will continue to do so for at least the next four years.

Nixon has also repeatedly insisted that he won't take McCulloch off the case.

Alana Horowitz

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From HuffPost's Dave Jamieson:

Like the rest of the St. Louis community, including their own teachers, Gateway students had emotional discussions about being black in America, about mistrust of the police, about peaceful demonstration and violent protest. They were asked to write down what they were feeling about Ferguson, with the assurance that no sentiments were out of bounds.

Click here to read excerpts from the responses penned by a group of 7th and 8th graders at the school.

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Washington Post reports that Darren Wilson was injured following a scuffle with Michael Brown before he shot and killed him.

A family friend told WaPo that Wilson's eye bone was fractured. Fox News reported similar information earlier this week, citing a police source.

Another source told CNN that these reports are false.

Last week, Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson told reporters that Wilson was taken to the hospital following the incident, but did not say for what.

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HuffPost's Arthur Delaney reports:

When Attorney General Eric Holder went to Ferguson, Missouri, on Wednesday, he assured local residents the U.S. Justice Department will swiftly investigate the police killing of an unarmed black teenager on Aug. 9.

In meetings with locals, Holder emphasized how his own past experiences will inform his work overseeing the Justice Department's investigation of Michael Brown's killing. He told students at a community college there that police searched his car when he'd been stopped for speeding on the New Jersey Turnpike.

"I remember how humiliating that was and how angry I was and the impact it had on me," Holder said. "The same kid who got stopped on the New Jersey freeway is now the attorney general of the United States."

But Holder's critics point out that this is the same man who was woefully soft on bad cops when he served as Washington, D.C.'s top prosecutor in the mid-1990s.

"Relying on Holder to take action is like sending a guy with a cup of water to put out a wildfire," said Gregory Lattimer, an attorney who has represented family members of people killed by D.C. police, including DeOnte Rawlings, a 14-year-old boy shot in the back of the head by an off-duty officer in 1997.

"[Holder] was part of the problem in D.C., not the solution," Lattimer said. "He says all the right things and then he goes out and defends the status quo."

Read more here.

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