FERGUSON, Mo. (CBSNewYork/AP) — President Barack Obama appealed for “peace and calm” in Ferguson and said there is no excuse for the use of excessive force by police and no excuse for violence against the police.
The fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer on Saturday has sparked protests in the St. Louis suburb. Some have turned violent.
He also said police shouldn’t be arresting and bullying journalists who are doing their jobs. Two reporters were taken into custody and briefly jailed Wednesday evening in the St. Louis suburb.
“I know emotions are raw right now in Ferguson and there are certainly passionate differences about what has happened,” Obama said in his first in-person remarks about the situation. “But let’s remember that we’re all part of one American family, we are united in common values and that includes the belief in equality under the law, respect for public order and the right to peaceful public protests.”
Obama, speaking from the Massachusetts island where he’s on a two-week vacation, said he wants an open and transparent investigation of Brown’s shooting death, so that justice is done. He said he had asked the Justice Department and FBI to investigate the incident.
The president said he had also spoken Thursday morning with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who has faced criticism for not doing more to control the violence. Obama defended the Democratic governor calling him “a good man, a fine governor.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio made clear he’s not up on the specifics of the Brown case, WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported.
“Some of the images are certainly troubling,” de Blasio said.
When asked to contrast the riots in Ferguson with the protest over Eric Garner’s death in Staten Island, de Blasio said New York has a different reality.
“We, for decades and decades, have the tradition in this city of respecting and properly managing peaceful protest and the right of people to express themselves,” he said.
To the crowd of reporters, the mayor added he never likes to see journalists under arrest.
“I can say safely that the way we do things here, I think, is the right way,” he said.
Rev. Al Sharpton is calling on the Department of Justice to monitor how police are responding to protesters in Ferguson.
On Wednesday night, police in riot gear again used tear gas to disperse protesters after some threw explosive devices and rocks at officers.
Members of Sharpton’s National Action Network and local civil rights leaders are scheduled to meet Thursday with Ferguson police to discuss the police response.
Sharpton says he spoke with St. Louis County Police Chief John Belmar by phone to express his outrage at how the police responded to the protests.
Later this month, Sharpton is planning to hold a rally on Staten Island to protest the police custody death of Eric Garner.
The 43-year-old father of six died after being placed in an apparent chokehold by police who were trying to arrest him for allegedly selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.
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