The Families of Slain Black Men — Including One You’ve Definitely Heard Of — Are Going to St. Louis for a ‘Peace Fest.’ The Tough Question: Why Were Their Sons Shot?

As weeks of violent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, seem to be calming, the high-profile shootings of young black men will be remembered in a unique way: The families of Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant and Michael Brown are planning to come together for a “Peace Fest” on Sunday evening in St. Louis.

Image via Yamiche Twitter
Image via Yamiche Alcindor / Twitter

“First and foremost, we have lived through this. The community stood with us. And we want to be a part of the community here and offer our advice and love,” Cephus Johnson, Grant’s uncle, told the Los Angeles Times.

Grant was 22 years old in 2009 when he was fatally shot by a white Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer in Oakland, California.

Martin was 17 in 2012, when he was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, a Hispanic neighborhood watch member, in Sanford, Florida.

This combo image made from file photos shows Trayvon Martin, left, and George Zimmerman. (AP Photos, File) AP Photos, File

And Brown, the most recently slain of the trio, was 18 years old when he was fatally shot by a white police officer at the beginning of August.

In all three cases, a significant amount of controversy surrounds the shootings.

Grant was reportedly involved in a scuffle aboard a train before being detained and then shot, allegedly accidentally, by a BART officer who claimed he had meant to draw his Taser, not his gun.

Zimmerman claimed that Martin was acting suspiciously on a dark night, and that Martin had attacked him before he shot the teen.

In Brown’s case, details are still emerging, but some reports indicate that Brown assaulted the police officer before the officer killed him.

Michael Brown, center, shown in surveillance video of what was allegedly a strong arm robbery committed minutes before his fatal shooting. Police have admitted that the officer who shot Brown was not aware of the robbery at the time of the shooting. (file)

In all three cases, a common thread is this: A young black man was killed, and after the killing, the young black man’s character became a matter of public debate and scrutiny.

Did the young men deserve to be shot? Or did racist law enforcement attitudes lead to their deaths?

In Grant’s case, the BART officer who shot him was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, not murder.

Zimmerman was cleared by a jury, acquitted of both manslaughter and second-degree murder.

What will happen to Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Brown, remains to be seen.

Brown’s funeral is reportedly scheduled for Monday.

Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter