Fatal shooting of teenager sparks protests in Ferguson, Missouri

A makeshift memorial sits near the spot where 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer on October 10, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri

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One year after the police shooting of an unarmed black teen thrust Ferguson, Missouri, into the national spotlight, the St. Louis suburb is bracing for a weekend of protests over continued complaints of police violence.

Civil rights activists, religious leaders and others from around the United States are converging on the mostly black community of about 21,000 to commemorate the life and death of 18-year-old Michael Brown and call for improvements in relations with police.

Brown's death sparked months of sometimes violent protests both in Ferguson and around the United States following subsequent police killings of unarmed black men in several other cities. It also spurred the "Black Lives Matter" movement that has cast a spotlight on long-troubled relations between police and minority residents of many U.S. cities.

Ferguson's police came under heavy criticism for their militarized response to last August's protests, when they used heavy armored vehicles, dogs and noise cannons on crowds of protesters, at times escalating the violence in Ferguson's streets.

Brown died after being shot multiple times by white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson after a confrontation with Wilson on a sunny Saturday afternoon as Brown and a friend walked through their neighborhood.

Images of the teen's body, which lay in the street for more than four hours, and an aftermath in which police officials defended Wilson's actions and characterized Brown as a thug and a thief, enraged many in the black community.

The grand jury that reviewed the case found Wilson had broken no laws, but that decision provoked a second wave of rioting in Ferguson three months after Brown's death.

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