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Obama appeals for peace in US town rocked by shooting

Posted on Aug 15 2014 | IANS

Washington, Aug 15 : US President Barack Obama has criticised the recent looting and the "excessive force" used by police in Ferguson in Missouri state after a fourth night of protests over the fatal police shooting of an unarmed African American man.

"I know that many Americans have been deeply disturbed by the images we've seen in the heartland of our country as police have clashed with people protesting," Obama told reporters Thursday in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, where he is vacationing.

The president noted that he had instructed the Department of Justice and the FBI to carry out their own investigation of last Saturday's incident, in which a white police officer shot 18-year-old Michael Brown to death.

"The Department of Justice is also consulting with local authorities about ways that they can maintain public safety without restricting the right of peaceful protest and while avoiding unnecessary escalation," Obama said.

Protests over Brown's death led last Sunday night to a night of looting, arson and clashes with police that have been repeated, albeit to a lesser degree, on each succeeding night since then, with police arresting about 50 people in all.

On Wednesday night, local security forces again were deployed on the streets of Ferguson backed up by armoured vehicles and they fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the demonstrators.

Police also arrested two reporters covering the story.

"Here in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and report to the American people on what they see on the ground," Obama said Thursday.

Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, is home to some 21,000 people, two-thirds of them black. The town's police force, however, is mostly white.

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