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Tuesday, 19 August 2014

White House steps up Ferguson effort

Ferguson unrest: White House steps up involvement
President Obama says looting and attacks on police “undermine rather than advance justice”
  • Timeline of Michael Brown shooting
The US attorney general is to travel to the riot-hit town of Ferguson, as the federal authorities step up efforts to restore calm after the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black teenager.
Eric Holder is due to meet officials carrying out an independent federal investigation into the killing of Michael Brown on 9 August.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama urged the local community to “try to unite each other”.
The shooting sparked days of unrest.
The National Guard has been deployed to support police operations, and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon on Monday lifted a night-time curfew in the town.
Troops have been stationed at the police command centre which is based in a shopping centre in the town.
On Monday evening, eyewitnesses said security forces were telling groups of protesters they had to keep moving on the streets.
A photographer working for Getty Images agency was arrested.
‘Critical step’In a statement, Mr Holder said he would “personally travel” to Ferguson on Wednesday to meet FBI investigators and prosecutors.
Michael Brown’s killing has exposed racial tensions in the majority-black suburb of St LouisTroops from the National Guard have been deployed to provide protection and guard police central command“I realise there is tremendous interest in the facts of the incident that led to Michael Brown’s death, but I ask for the public patience as we conduct this investigation,” Mr Holder said.
And he stressed that the investigation into the shooting of 18-year-old Mr Brown was “a critical step in restoring trust between law enforcement and the community, not just in Ferguson, but beyond”.
Separately, President Obama said he understood the “passions and anger” provoked by the death of the teenager.
But he said giving into anger “by looting or carrying guns and even attacking the police only serves to raise tensions and stir chaos”.
“It undermines rather than advances justice,” he said.
‘Objects of fear’Mr Obama said he recognised that in many communities in the US a “gulf of mistrust” existed between local residents and law enforcement.
“In too many communities, too many young men of colour are left behind and seen only as objects of fear,” he said.
But he urged the community to look for understanding, and seek to heal.
  • 6% Police officers are black
  • 9% Unemployed
  • 21% Families living below the poverty line
US Census, American Community Survey, Ferguson City PoliceGettyDr Michael Baden points to the location on his head where one of the gunshots struck Michael BrownPolice fired tear gas on protesters on Sunday eveningEarlier, a former New York pathologist hired by Mr Brown’s family to perform an independent autopsy into his shooting gave his findings.
Dr Michael Baden said he believed six bullets struck Mr Brown, two of which may have re-entered.
“All of the gunshot wounds could have been survivable, except the one at the top of the head,” he said.
Family lawyer Benjamin Crump said autopsy results backed up the witness accounts
Position of surrenderDr Baden said there were no signs of a struggle, as abrasions around the teenager’s face were likely from falling to the pavement after being shot.
He also believed Mr Wilson did not shoot him at close range as there was no gunpowder residue on his body, suggesting the officer was at least 2ft away.
Witnesses have said Mr Brown was shot as he held his hands up in a position of surrender, while the police and supporters of Mr Wilson have said he fired during a fight with Mr Brown.
The officer who shot Mr Brown, Darren Wilson, has been suspended with pay since the shooting.
Mr Brown’s family have called for the officer to be arrested and prosecuted.
Another autopsy on Mr Brown will be conducted by the US justice department, in addition to examinations by Dr Baden and St Louis county officials.
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