WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama announced Monday that Attorney General Eric Holder will travel to Ferguson in the state of Missouri to carry out a federal investigation into a shooting incident that has spurred outrage and riot in the local community
During a press conference at the White House, Obama said Holder’s visit to Ferguson on Wednesday will include meetings with federal investigators and local community directors.
The president said Holder will also meet with law enforcement officials “to help bring about peace and calm in Ferguson.”
On Monday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon deployed the state National Guard to the St. Louis suburbs of Ferguson to address the “intensifying violent attacks” there.
The governor said in a statement that he deployed the Guard because of “coordinated attacks last night both on civilians and law enforcement officers.” Nixon said the Guard’s involvement will be a “limited mission.” The National Guard is a reserve military force that can be mobilized under state or federal authority. President Barack Obama said he told Nixon he’ll be watching to determine if the Guard’s presence is beneficial or harmful.
On Aug 9, 18-year-old African American Michael Brown was shot dead by police in Ferguson, sparking a week-long protest in the town where most of the population is black.
Latest autopsy conducted on behalf of Brown’s family showed that the boy had been shot at least six times, including twice in the head.
The pathologist said the boy had suffered a bullet wound to his right arm that may indicate his hands were up or his back was turned — a gesture of possible surrender — when the fatal shot hit.
But the pathologist said the independent team that examined Brown can’t be sure yet exactly how the wounds were inflicted, citing the need for more information.
Brown’s death heightened racial tensions between the predominantly black community and the mostly white Ferguson Police Department. Many local residents fear that local officials will not act fairly in determining whether to charge the officer, Darren Wilson, with a crime.
As clashes between police and protestors continued, both President Obama and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday called for the protection of the rights of the demonstrators.
Ban called on the authorities to “ensure that the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are protected,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.
“He calls on all to exercise restraint, for law enforcement officials to abide by US and international standards in dealing with demonstrators,” Dujarric said.
Obama, for his part, also noted that constitutional rights to speak freely, assemble and those of the press must be “vigilantly safeguarded... especially in moments like these.”
“There’s no excuse for excessive force by police,” he added.
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