William Howard Green's friends and neighbors bade him farewell tonight, tearfully but not violently.
Hundreds of mourners, some silent and some sobbing, filed past the body of the 17-year-old black youth, killed by a white Philadelphia policeman Sunday, and into the humid night where most of them milled around peacefully.
After Green's funeral, about 100 young blacks began marching through the north Philadelphia ghetto, their mood angry, their destination unclear.
After they had gone a few blocks, state Rep. Milton Street caught up and convinced them to assemble in a nearby schoolyard. Their numbers swelled to about 300, as Street pleaded with them to stay cool.
By midnight, there has been one minor incident of lobbying, but none of the skirmishes with the police that swept the area Monday and Tuesday nights, and the crowd was dispersing.
All day, leaders in north Philadelphia had warned that if police entered the immediate vicinity of the funeral home where services for Green were held there would be trouble. Tonight, police vans ringed the area, but at a distance of four to five blocks, far enough away to avoid being evident.
Inside the Ray Funeral Home, several speakers stressed that William Green's death was the work of the Lord -- not, by implication, the Philadelphia police.
Apparently the police feel differently. The Philadelphia Inquirer will report Thursday that criminal charges that could range from assault to murder will be filed against John Ziegler, 34, the police officer who killed Green while the service revolver he was using to hit the youth discharged accidentally.
District attorney Edward Rendell denied the report, saying the investigation is still under way.
Green's friends say he was a kid with a pinchant for mixings with the law; tonight he lay in a lined coffin, in a light gray pinstripe suit, hands neatly folded and face in sweet repose.
"William was an obedient and lovable child," the printed obituary passed around at the service read, "and had spent the majority of his life living with his maternal grandmother."
Several uniformed nurses helped minister to the handful of people at the service who were physically overcome by grief. "No matter what we say here tonight we'll not keep Mr. William Howard Green," the Rev. Benjamin Hackett told the mourners. "For he has finished his work. It is done because of the will of God. So we bend to His will."
This afternoon, a crowd of several dozen people gathered in front of a pawnshop, near the funeral home, that has been looted twice this week, to hear Rep. Street tell the police to go away.
"We don't need the police," he said. "They perpetuate the situation. These people are not going to destroy their own community." Street repeatedly warned that if police did not keep their distance, violence would ensue.
Tuesday night, police arrested 20 persons, were occasionally pelted by bricks and bottles, and tried with sporadic success to stop looting across north Philadelphia that went on for most of the night.