Michael Brown’s stepfather repeatedly urged protesters to “Burn this —– down” after a prosecutor announced that no criminal charges would be filed against the Ferguson, Missouri police officer who killed the unarmed teenager.
Louis Head, an ex-con who is married to Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, was with McSpadden outside the Ferguson Police Department headquarters Monday evening as prosecutor Robert McCulloch disclosed that a grand jury declined to vote an indictment against Officer Darren Wilson in the August 9 shooting.
After consoling a weeping McSpadden, the 38-year-old Head–who was standing atop a platform in the middle of the agitated crowd of several hundred protesters–began screaming “Burn this —– down!” He did this at least ten times, and at one point yelled for a microphone so that he could broadcast his incendiary message beyond the range of his unamplified voice.
While trying to incite the crowd, Head (pictured above) was wearing a commemorative t-shirt with the words “I Am Mike Brown” and a beanie, both of which bore a silkscreened photo of Brown in his high school cap and gown.
In the days preceding the grand jury announcement, McSpadden and Michael Brown, Sr. issued statements calling for peaceful protests in the wake of the panel’s decision. Head, however, counseled arson. After a night of chaos and rioting in Ferguson, at least 10 businesses and two police cars were destroyed or damaged by fire, and 61 individuals were arrested.
Head is an ex-convict whose rap sheet includes two felony narcotics convictions, according to state records. He pleaded guilty in 1997 to a marijuana distribution charge and was put in a shock incarceration program and placed on probation for five years. After violating probation, Head’s release was revoked and he was remanded to state prison.
In mid-2003, Head was charged with narcotics trafficking, a felony count to which he later pleaded guilty. The St. Louis native was sentenced to seven years in prison. He was released in June 2008 after serving about five years in custody.
Along with McSpadden, Head is at the center of an ongoing Feguson Police Department investigation of an incident last month during which three vendors selling commemorative Michael Brown merchandise were assaulted. One of the victims, Michael Brown, Sr.’s mother-in-law, identified McSpadden and Head as among the “attackers” who ransacked her stands and stole $400 in cash and merchandise valued at $1500.
According to USA Today, McSpadden and Head were married earlier this year, before Brown’s killing.