(Aired 8/14/14 on NY1 and Time Warner Cable News stations)
President Barack Obama on Thursday weighed in on the major show of force between protestors and police in a St. Louis suburb following the shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager by a police officer. Washington bureau reporter Geoff Bennett has more on the president’s response and the federal investigation into the shooting.
Tear gas and flash bombs sent people running in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri Wednesday night.
Police officers used military style equipment, a controversial move, as they tried to control an area that's been ripped apart by racial tension.
The protests, which officials say included Molotov cocktails and rock throwing, come after a police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, this past weekend.
Police also arrested two journalists Wednesday, who were covering the protests. Neither was charged.
Thursday afternoon, President Barack Obama called for peace. He delivered a statement while vacationing on Martha's Vineyard, shaming both sides without placing blame.
"There is never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting. There is also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their first amendment rights and here in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs,” said Obama.
President Obama this week ordered the Department of Justice and the FBI to independently investigate the police shooting death of Michael Brown alongside local authorities. He said federal officials will be reporting directly to him over the coming days.
"I made clear to the Attorney General that we should do what is necessary to determine exactly what happened and to see that justice is done,” said Obama.
In a written statement Thursday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said federal investigators have already interviewed eyewitnesses to the shooting. And Holder also said he was deeply concerned about the law enforcement response Wednesday night.
He said, in those situations, police should try to reduce tensions, not heighten them.
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