In Missouri, Michael Brown memorial preserved, protected

A makeshift memorial is seen near the site where unarmed teen Michael Brown was shot dead in Ferguson, Missouri August 22, 2014. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

By Carey Gillam FERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - It's still there. The stuffed animals, flowers, and candles mounded into a memorial in the middle of the street where 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer changes almost daily. Sometimes it swells with roses or includes a hand-lettered sign of anger over the teen's death. It has been a month since the unarmed Brown was shot at least six times in an altercation with Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Crowds no longer gather daily at the site where Brown died, a quiet street that runs between the Canfield Green apartment buildings. But the mourning and the protests have both faded into a quiet resolve that Brown's death not be forgotten. And for many residents here, that means the memorial must stay. "This brother's memorial is going to be here," said David Whitt, 34, who lives in the area and has volunteered to help keep the memorial intact despite the fact that it runs directly down the middle of a regularly traveled road. "People care. It is so peaceful here now." An orange traffic cone protects one end of the memorial and a sign at the other warns drivers to slow down. Brown's death on Aug. 9 sparked weeks of street protests and a national examination of race relations and police treatment of blacks. The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the shooting, as is the county prosecutor. And civil rights activists around the nation are demanding changes in police practices throughout the country. Whitt and a small group of area residents have recently taken to wearing body cameras and carrying larger video cameras, purchased with donated funds, so they are prepared to document any police harassment. They also cart the cameras with them as they take turns keeping an eye out for any attempts by authorities to dismantle the memorial to Brown. The residents are seeking legal counsel to help them make the memorial to Brown a permanent feature in the neighborhood. So far, authorities are keeping their distance and have not challenged the long line of items that in addition to flowers, candles and toys, also includes basketballs, T-shirts, ball caps and an American flag. "I know it is important for the community for there to be something there," said Ferguson Democratic Committeewoman Patricia Bynes, who is helping lead a community outreach and education program for black residents. "It is a very emotional issue," she said. "But it is in the middle of the street. We need to work together on some type of more permanent memorial." (Reporting By Carey Gillam; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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