A memorial for the slain teenager Mike Brown is being rebuilt in Ferguson, Missouri, Tuesday after an early morning fire reportedly reduced it to ashes.
The cause of the blaze is still being investigated, according to the Associated Press, but the incident immediately caused outrage and suspicion among residents and other Brown supporters who believe it was the work of a viscous arsonist. “Setting Mike Brown’s memorial on fire is basically a cross burning,” one Twitter user posted.
So Angry. Somebody set the Mike Brown memorial on fire in the middle of the night. pic.twitter.com/9M7C9uzl4o
â€” Shaun King (@ShaunKing) September 23, 2014
Laura Hettiger, a reporter for KMOV in St. Louis, tweeted that there were no witnesses.
â€” Laura Hettiger KMOV (@LauraKHettiger) September 23, 2014
According to MSNBC, the Ferguson Fire Department received a call around 6:45 a.m. and arrived at the scene to find the memorial engulfed in flames. Several Twitter users posted images of fire officials extinguishing the blaze.
Ferguson Fire Chief Steven Rosenthal told the Washington Post that the memorial is usually surrounded by burning candles, which could have caused the fire. But that possibility is not likely to appease residents of the suburban St. Louis town where officials have been repeatedly criticized for their lack of transparency in the investigation surrounding Brown’s Aug. 9 death. The unarmed 18-year-old was fatally shot by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in an incident that sparked weeks of civil unrest and captured international media attention.
The memorial is located on Canfield Drive, the street where Brown was shot. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that some residents have already begun rebuilding the memorial with stuffed animals and flowers.