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Brown brought a group of nine people with him to the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J., according to the city’s Star-Ledger newspaper. The New Edition singer had wanted to sit among the same church pews as Houston’s family members, the Star Ledger reported.
“They were asked to leave,” a source said of Brown’s posse. He was allowed to stay but “left with the other people.”
Brown, upset over the so-called snub of his group, drove off in a black Cadillac SUV. The Associated Press reported that beforehand, he had walked up to Houston’s casket and touched it; Brown was scheduled to perform on Saturday night at the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Conn.
Brown, who divorced Houston in 2007 following a tumultuous 15-year marriage, was invited by Houston’s family to attend the private, star-studded services. In the wake of her death, he left his concert tour with New Edition to fly to Los Angeles and console their 18-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown; she was briefly hospitalized for anxiety-related issues a day after her mother was found dead Feb. 11.
Brown issued a statement on Saturday afternoon to clarify the situation. Brown said his group — which included his four other children from other relationships — were “seated by security” and asked to move on three separate occasions, with no access to Bobbi Kristina.
“I fail to understand why security treated my family this way and continue to ask us and no one else to move. … In light of the events, I gave a kiss to the casket of my ex-wife and departed as I refused to create a scene,” he said.
“My children are completely distraught over the events,” Brown continued. “This was a day to honor Whitney. I doubt Whitney would have wanted this to occur. I will continue to pay my respects to my ex-wife the best way I know how.”
According to reports, the Houston family had initially debated inviting Brown to the ceremony before eventually deciding to offer him an olive branch.
In a message on his Twitter account, the Rev. Al Sharpton said from the New Hope church: “I am at Whitney’s funeral. I spoke with Bobby Brown trying to calm him down and not distract from the services. Today is about Whitney!”
Sharpton defended Brown to CNN after Saturday’s ceremony. “He showed nothing but love and respect. … I wish people would leave Bobby alone,” he said.
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