Darren Seals, a controversial Ferguson activist who rose to prominence after the police shooting of Michael Brown on Aug. 9, 2014, was found dead under suspicious circumstances Sept. 9, according to news reports.
At around 1:50 a.m., St. Louis County Police found the 29-year-old’s lifeless body, which had sustained at least one gunshot wound, inside his burning car on Diamond Drive in Riverview, just 12 miles from his home, according to news reports.
Darren Seals via Facebook
More than 100 people gathered at the site that same night for a candlelight vigil in Seals’ honor, and became infuriated when they found police had not put crime scene tape around the area and that bullet casings were on the ground, The Guardian newspaper reported.
“We were literally stepping on the ashes from his car and his body,” Tamara “Bates” Dodd, a St. Louis hip-hop artist and activist, told the publication. “That was probably the thing that shook me up the most, seeing little kids walking past, not knowing what they’re standing on.”
St. Louis County Police is investigating the Seals’ death as a homicide, but have not shared a possible motive behind the shooting.
Seals was an unabashed and outspoken critic of police brutality and one of the loudest voices emerging out of the Ferguson protests. He was also a controversial and fierce critic of the Blacks Lives Matter Movement, however, saying the national-level organization had co-opted the Ferguson protests and never given back to the local community that had jumpstarted the movement.
In a Twitter post last year, Seals wrote: “#BlackLivesMatter is a gay/feminist movement not a Black movement they are not ‘leaders’ they’re thieves who exploited the work of Black ppl.”
Still, many—including BLM activists with whom he had sometimes-vicious disagreements—took to social media to honor the fallen Seals.
“We can live in a world where people don’t die by violence. Nobody deserves to die. We did not always agree, but we should be alive today,” well-known Black Lives Matter activist Deray McKesson, whom Seals once physically attacked during an argument, posted on Twitter Tuesday.