Brown family’s Florissant church burned down by Ferguson ‘protesters’

Brown family’s Florissant church burned down by Ferguson ‘protesters’

Clutching hands, about 30 members of the Lee family stood over the Thanksgiving spread. Before they could eat, family tradition dictates, they had to go around the room saying what they were thankful for. …

[I]t was Pastor Carlton Lee’s turn. Just a few days earlier, the church that is his livelihood and his love had been destroyed by fire in the violence that engulfedFerguson after residents learned that the white officer who shot and killedMichael Brown would not be charged by a state grand jury.

No one would blame Lee — who is the Brown family pastor — if it was a bit difficult to be thankful this year. …

As chaos engulfed several Ferguson streets Monday, Lee tried unsuccessfully to chase away looters and put out fires along West Florissant Avenue. Then his phone rang.

The officer on the other end of the line told him that he needed to get to his church right away. By the time Lee arrived, the cinder-block structure had been gutted by flames.

“We all know the church got set on fire,” Lee said. “I put everything I had into the church. And to see the smoke shooting out and fire shooting out, it really did something to me.”

As they had Monday night, thick tears welled in his eyes. …

The church building, purchased in March by the 31-year-old Lee, sits well outside the area where things were violent, far from the riots. The glass storefronts on each side remain unscathed.

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