Ministers Appeal for Peace, Justice At Funeral in Riot-Torn City
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) _ Speaking over the coffin of a black teen whose shooting death by police sparked a night of rioting, the Rev. Joseph Lowery urged mourners Saturday to seek peace and justice, not retribution.
``Violence won’t bring him back. Violence will put more young people here,″ the Southern Christian Leadership Conference president said at the funeral of 18-year-old TyRon Lewis.
Lewis was shot during a traffic stop 10 days earlier. Police said a white officer started shooting when Lewis’ car lurched toward him. Some witnesses said the officer was not in danger.
About 300 people roamed the streets following the shooting, hurling Molotov cocktails, rocks and bottles, and setting 29 fires. Damage was estimated at upwards of $5 million.
``I’m tired of going around the country preaching eulogies of young men whose dreams have been denied,″ Lowery told hundreds of mourners at Bethel Metropolitan Baptist Church.
``Color is not what makes you. It’s the soul and heart. Men look at the outside, but God looks on the inside,″ he said.
Across the street from the church, about 30 people demonstrated for the National People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, a black separatist group.
Hundreds of people filed past the coffin.
``He was shot in cold blood. What happened to him is not right. He didn’t deserve to die,″ said TyRon’s cousin, Miguel Boye, 21. ``It makes me feel good to see so many came to pay respects.″
The shooting is being investigated by police and civil rights leaders, and federal prosecutors are reviewing the case.