National News

Another Ferguson activist dies under cloud of suspicion

By J.A. Salaam -Staff Writer- | Last updated: May 17, 2017 - 4:53:47 PM

What's your opinion on this article?

Edward Crawford
ST. LOUIS—The activist community in nearby Ferguson, Mo., mourned the loss of Edward Crawford, a friend and fighter for justice. Mr. Crawford was a “front liner” during the Ferguson unrest in 2014 ignited after the killing of Michael Brown, Jr. by former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

The world remembers the powerful image of him wearing an American flag tee shirt, holding a bag of chips in one hand, and throwing a tear gas canister away from where women and children were standing as heavily-armed law enforcement officers engaged in a standoff with protestors.

The 27-year-old father of five was shot in the head while riding in a car with two females May 4, according to police reports. Police say his wound was self-inflicted and an apparent suicide.

The women have said Mr. Crawford started talking about how distraught he was over personal matters. They said they heard him rummaging for something in the back seat and then he shot himself in the head. The official cause of death is pending the results of an autopsy.

His death came as a shock, and many found it hard to believe he killed himself, saying he loved his children, family, friends and life.

Attorney Jerryl Christmas has represented Mr. Crawford since August 2014, after he was charged with interfering with a police officer and assault. The lawyer had a meeting scheduled with Mr. Crawford the day of his death. His 2014 case was pending and scheduled for a hearing at the end of May.

In this Aug. 13, 2014, file photo, Edward Crawford Jr. throws a container of tear gas back at police officers during a protest against police in Ferguson, Mo., four days after a White police officer fatally shot unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown. Photo: AP/Wide World photos
Atty. Christmas said Mr. Crawford stood firm that he was not guilty of charges against him. During a 2014 interview with The Final Call, Mr. Crawford said, “I didn’t throw a burning can back at police, I threw it out of the way of women, men and children. I’m a father and that could have been my kid. And the last thing you want to see is a kid’s face being burned by tear gas.”

“He has been my client since the Ferguson uprise. I had an appointment with him. He missed it because he was at his daughter’s school reading with her,” said Atty. Christmas. “He was not suicidal and was living a normal life like anybody else and was planning a better future. There was nothing that I saw that would drive him to suicide.

“Then what’s strange is that there were two people in the car with him, and people normally don’t commit suicide with people with them. What do they really know of what happened? I feel this needs to be investigated fully,” he said.

Edward Crawford is one of several Ferguson protestors to die under strange circumstances. In early September, 2016, Darren Seals, 29, was found with his Jeep Wrangler engulfed in flames in Riverview, Mo., a suburb north of St. Louis. He died from a gunshot wound to his head, according to authorities.

Two years earlier on November 26, 2014, the day after a grand jury didn’t indict officer Wilson for the Brown shooting death, Deandre Joshua, 20, was found shot in the head and burned inside his car just east of the Canfield Apartments. He was about 75 yards away from where Michael Brown was killed.

Some question the deaths and don’t believe accounts of suicide.

Mr. Edwards’ funeral was May 15, the same day as Mr. Seals’ birthday, and the two friends were often seen on front lines of protests.

(L-R) Edward Crawford, Anthony Shahid and Darren Seals.
The funeral was held at Greater Faith Missionary Baptist Church on the city’s north side. Over 1,000 people attended the service. The crowd was so huge some waited up to 90 minutes to view the remains during Mr. Edward’s wake. Among those who came to support the family was Michael Brown, Sr., and activist Anthony Shahid, who stood with Mr. Crawford and other young protestors during the Ferguson unrest.

Attorney Christmas offered words of encouragement to Mr. Edward’s family and vowed to keep fighting with the St. Louis Post Dispatch newspaper. He wants Mr. Crawford’s family to benefit financially for the photo taken of him that is being sold all over the world by the Post-Dispatch.

Several speakers described Mr. Crawford as a loving person and always in a good mood. Several friends and family reflected on the sense of humor and love Mr. Crawford shared with those he encountered. “He was a giver and protector of children. He loved the babies and he showed you that night when he threw that gas can back away from the children,” said one speaker.

The family is seeking an investigation to determine what happened to Mr. Crawford. An autopsy is pending and was not available at Final Call press time.