Top Ferguson activist found dead in burning car, police say

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(CNN) — A 29-year-old activist who rose to prominence in the protests following the police killing of Michael Brown was found dead in a burning a car in a St. Louis suburb, according to police.

The victim was identified as Darren Seals, 29, formerly of St. Louis, said St. Louis County Police Department spokesman Sgt. Shawn McGuire.

Just before 2 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 6, county police received a call from Riverview, a northern suburb, to assist local authorities with a vehicle fire.

Upon putting out the fire, police found Seals inside the vehicle. He had suffered a gunshot wound, police said.

The area where the vehicle was found is a largely residential street hosting apartment complexes and single-family homes. It sits a short walk from Riverview’s North Riverfront Park and the Mississippi River.

Seals’ Twitter bio said he was a “Businessman, Revolutionary, Activist, Unapologetically BLACK, Afrikan in AmeriKKKa, Fighter, Leader.”

Describing Seals as a factory line worker and hip-hop musician, The St. Louis American said he was highly vocal during the Ferguson protests that followed Brown’s death in August 2014.

When a grand jury declined to indict Officer Darren Wilson in Brown’s killing, it was Seals seen in video footage and photos embracing Brown’s distraught mother, Lesley McSpadden, as Brown’s stepfather angrily told the crowd, “Burn this bitch down.”

Of the moment the family learned Wilson would face no trial, Seals wrote on Instagram: “After they dropped it his mom broke down so bad it hurt my soul.”

Media outlets featured his commentary in the weeks and months to follow as he continued to be outspoken about racial issues after the Brown protests subsided.

In his last tweet, he lashed out at the NFL for its treatment of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has become a lightning rod after protesting police brutality by sitting during the national anthem before games.

It was reported this week that, despite the controversy embroiling the quarterback, sales of Kaepernick’s No. 7 jersey have become the NFL’s top seller — over the shirts worn by the Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott and the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady.

“The @NFL mad about #Kaepernick protest but I bet they don’t turn down all the money from them jersey sales,” Seals tweeted Monday.