says time for healing, transparency in Missouri shooting
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[August 15, 2014]
By Jeff Mason and Daniel Lovering
EDGARTOWN Mass. (Reuters) - U.S. President
Barack Obama on Thursday called for peace on the streets of Ferguson,
Missouri, after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a
police officer and urged authorities to be transparent in their
"Now is the time for healing. Now is the time for peace and calm
on the streets of Ferguson," Obama told reporters on Martha's
Vineyard, where he is vacationing with his family. "Now is the time
for an open and transparent process to see that justice is done."
Protesters have gathered every night in Ferguson, the mostly black
suburb of St. Louis, since Michael Brown was fatally shot on
Saturday during what authorities said was a struggle over a gun in a
police car. Some witnesses say he was outside the car with his hands
Obama said he had asked the Department of Justice and the FBI to
investigate the killing independently.
He said he expressed concern to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon about
violence in the wake of the shooting and noted he had asked Attorney
General Eric Holder and the U.S. attorney on the scene to report
back to him in the coming days about the investigation.
"We lost a young man, Michael Brown, in heart-breaking and tragic
circumstances. He was 18 years old and his family will never hold
Michael in their arms again," Obama said.
"When something like this happens, the local authorities, including
the police, have a responsibility to be open and transparent about
how they are investigating that death and how they are protecting
the people in their communities."
Obama said there was never an excuse for looting or violence against
police. But he also made a point of saying there was no excuse for
police to use excessive force against peaceful protesters or to
throw people, including journalists, in jail for exercising their
rights under the U.S. Constitution.
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"We all need to hold ourselves to a high standard," Obama said.
The Missouri incident recalls Obama's emotional reaction to the
shooting of Trayvon Martin, the black teenager who was shot to death
by a white Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida in 2012.
Obama, the first black U.S. president, compared Martin to a son he
did not have and urged "soul searching" over how the incident
The president has faced criticism since arriving on Martha's
Vineyard for spending time golfing or partying with friends while
U.S. forces were active in Iraq and mayhem erupted in Ferguson.
The White House rejects that criticism and has said Obama continues
to do his job while having some down time to relax. Shortly after
completing his statement on the situations in Ferguson and Iraq,
Obama went golfing with friends.
(Additional reporting by Mark Felsenthal in Washington; Editing by
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