(Tallahassee Democrat) Ben Crump did not have time for an extended interview Thursday afternoon. He was too busy making arrangements for an independent autopsy for Michael Brown, the unarmed 18-year-old African American who was shot and killed Saturday afternoon by a police officer in Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb.
Crump, one half of the Tallahassee law firm Parks & Crump, right now may be the most high-profile civil rights attorney in the country. This week he was heard and seen on every major network, standing next to the slain teen's parents and calling for Ferguson police chief to identify the officer involved in Brown's shooting. He's given prime-time interviews to CNN and other news organizations.
For Crump, who returned to Tallahassee Wednesday evening and plans to go back to St. Louis on Friday, it's business as usual.
He didn't learn about Brown's shooting – which has sparked ongoing protests and riots since Sunday – right away. Crump was enjoying the spotlight in Atlanta on Saturday, rubbing elbows with celebrities at a Steve Harvey awards show where Crump was a presenter.
Sunday morning he was back in town, going straight from the airport to Bethel Missionary Baptist Church on West Tennessee Street. His phone started pinging while he was trying to concentrate on the Rev. R. B. Holmes' sermon. He ignored the phone.
The first text message he saw was from a staff member in his office, Dazi Lenoir. He could tell she was distraught. She was telling him about a cousin who had been shot by a police officer outside St. Louis.
Then Tracy Martin, father of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 16-year-old shot to death in Sanford in 2012. Crump has represented the Martin family in the prominent case that served to further increase Crump's national profile.
Martin, it turns out, is a native of St. Louis and had relatives who knew the Brown family.
"They need you," Martin told Crump.
Crump was still trying to get information about what exactly happened Saturday afternoon in Ferguson. Attorneys operate with facts.
Meanwhile, Crump's cellphone was going crazy, calls, texts and emails threatening to overwhelm the device. The president of the St. Louis branch of the NCAACP, a man Crump had met on several occasions, was on the phone.
"We need you here," he said.
By Sunday late afternoon, Crump was convinced that they were right.
"They left that boy's body in the street for hours," Crump said Thursday. "This was just so wrong."
Crump promised to get to St. Louis first thing Sunday morning. As he was returning to Tallahassee Wednesday, Daryl Parks, his friend and business partner, was on his way to St. Louis to relieve him for a couple of days.
"We're always busy," Crump said, "but this has been extra intense."
GALLERY: Police, protestors clash in Ferguson over teen's death