Claims about Michael Brown’s Family – Truth! & Fiction!

Claims about Michael Brown’s Family – Truth! & Fiction!

Summary of eRumor: 

Claims about Michael Brown Jr.’s family circulated the web following a grand jury’s decision not to indict former officer Darren Wilson in the teenager’s fatal shooting.

The Truth:

Claims made about the Brown family in countless forwarded emails and social media posts are both true and false.

The eRumor cites a number claims about Michael Brown Jr.’s parents, upbringing and family life to back up a larger social commentary:

“If anything is to be mourned, it is the fact that Michael never had a chance to live with two real parents who loved and raised him in their home. He only became important to them when he was dead.

“Why don’t Sharpton, Jackson, Holder and Obama focus on the need to rebuild real, solid family units and values in the black community where parents are dedicated to their kids and they focus on their lives before and not after they are gone. Michael Brown did not have that opportunity.”

While the eRumor’s larger social commentary is a matter of personal opinion that cannot be proven true or false, the individual facts used to make that argument can be fact-checked and vetted.

It’s true that Michael Brown Jr’s parents, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr., never wed. But the claim that Brown Jr. never lived with “two real parents who loved and raised him” is false. The New York Times reports that Brown Jr. lived under one roof with McSpadden, Brown Sr. and his paternal grandparents as a boy before his parents separated. Brown Jr. then moved in with his mother before he moved in with his paternal grandparents after his mother moved out of the district where he attended high school.

Pearlie Gordon, however, wasn’t Brown Jr.’s paternal grandmother, as the eRumor claims. Gordon was the mother of Brown Sr.’s wife, which made her his mother-in-law, according to Ferguson police records. And contrary to the eRumor’s claims, McSpadden and Louis Head were married a month before Brown’s shooting, USA Today reports. The eRumor also misidentifies Head in a photo. The man pictured beside McSpadden is actually Michael Brown Sr., Michael Brown Jr.’s biological father.

And It’s true, as the eRumor claims, that McSpadden was under investigation for her role in an alleged altercation with Gordon and other street vendors who were selling “Justice for Michael Brown” t-shirts in Ferguson.

The case was referred to detectives for further investigation. A police report on the incident didn’t indicate what charges, if any, would result from the investigation.

The report said Pearle Gordon was among a group of street vendors selling t-shirts and afghans on Florissant Street when the incident unfolded on October 18, 2014.

Gordon reported that McSpadden was among a group of 20-30 people who “rushed” the street vendors to confront them about selling the merchandise.

According to police report:

“Gordon told McSpadden she was Michael Brown Sr.’s mother-in-law, and unless McSpadden could produce documentation stating she had a patent on her son’s name, Gordon was going to continue to sell her merchandise. Desureia Harris (McSpadden’s mother) told Gordon ‘you don’t know my grandson like that’ … and Harris then proceeded to rip down t-shirts and other items hanging on a line.”

Gordon told police the vendors were attacked and lost more than $1,500 in merchandise and $400 in cash in the encounter.

Police investigation into the incident is ongoing. Future updates will be posted here.