The administration’s handling of the Brown funeral already has started to raise comparisons between the two.
For Monday’s funeral, the White House sent two officials with the White House Office of Public Engagement as well as Broderick Johnson, chairman of the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force.
No White House officials, though, were part of the presidential delegation sent last year to Thatcher’s funeral. For that, the White House sent former secretaries of State George Schultz and James Baker III – as well as the charge d’affaires to the U.K. and the former U.S. ambassador.
At the time, the nature of the delegation stirred controversy in the British media as tabloids claimed British officials felt snubbed that high-level American officials – including President Obama himself – were not attending.
The White House countered that Baker and Schultz’ attendance were “testimony” to Thatcher’s “global stature and reputation.” British Prime Minister David Cameron’s office also denied claims at the time that the administration had snubbed the late prime minister.
But in the case of Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old fatally shot by a police officer earlier this month, the Obama administration has devoted considerable resources. Attorney General Eric Holder visited Ferguson, Mo., last week and has dozens of investigators on the ground conducting a federal civil rights probe.
The administration also said that one of the White House officials attending the funeral on Monday had a personal connection.
Marlon Marshall, deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, is a St. Louis native and went to high school with Michael Brown’s mother.
The other White House official is Heather Foster, public engagement adviser for the White House Office of Public Engagement.
The White House also came under criticism recently when Obama did not attend the funeral for Maj. Gen. Harold Greene, the highest-ranking U.S. military officer killed in combat since the Vietnam War.
He was killed in a suspected insider attack in Afghanistan. Obama was in Martha’s Vineyard during the funeral, but Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno attended.
When Greene’s body arrived at Dover Air Force Base days earlier, Odierno and Army Secretary John McHugh reportedly were there for the transfer. While White House officials typically do not attend these transfers, Obama and past U.S. presidents do from time to time. Obama and top Defense officials attended the transfer, for instance, of the remains of 30 U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan in 2011 when their helicopter was shot down.
Meanwhile, the highest-level administration official at the 2010 funeral for border agent Brian Terry was then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.