Ferguson:Obama urges Peace, Healing – Should Police Chief Thomas Jackson Resign?

  • Should Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson Resign Now? Yes
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    The VOA reports on President Obama’s Concern Over Ferguson, Mo., Violence here:

    Obama Urges Healing, Peace In Ferguson, Mo.

    President Barack Obama expressed his concern and appealed for calm after a particularly violent night in Ferguson, Missouri, where an unarmed black teenager was shot and killed by a police officer last weekend.

    Obama, speaking from the Massachusetts island where he’s on a two-week vacation, said he has asked the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate the incident.





    “I know that many Americans have been deeply disturbed by the images we have seen in the Heartland of our country as police clashed with protesters” in Ferguson, Obama said.

    “We need to take a step back and think about where we are moving,” he added.

    Police in riot gear fired rubber bullets, tear gas and smoke bombs late Wednesday at hundreds of residents who were protesting for a fourth consecutive night in the predominantly black community.

    Violence

    Obama said he has also consulted local authorities about ways to maintain public safety without restricting the right to peaceful protests.

    “There is never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting,” Obama said.

    However, regarding the arrests of Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post and Ryan J. Reilly of The Huffington Post – Obama said he embraces the right of reporters to do their jobs.

    “There’s no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protestors into jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights,” Obama said. “And 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.”

    Local police response

    Police on Thursday defended the use of tear gas and smoke bombs to repel demonstrators Wednesday.

    St. Louis County police spokesman Brian Schellman said officers on Wednesday night tossed tear gas to disperse a large crowd of protesters after some threw Molotov cocktails and rocks at officers. More than 10 people were arrested in Ferguson.

    “In talking to these guys, it is scary,” Schellman said of officers on the front lines of the protest. “They hear gunshots going off, and they don’t know where they’re coming from.”

    But the police response has drawn heavy criticism from many circles

    Officer’s name tweeted

    Also on Thursday, authorities in Missouri stood by their earlier decision to withhold the name of the police officer who fatally shot Brown, but denied the officer was the person identified online by a hacker activist.

    Demonstrators and Brown’s family have called on police to release the name of the officer, but officials have refused to do so, citing security concerns in a tense environment amid days of protests.

    Among the concerns, they said, are online threats from the hacker group Anonymous, which has said it would release personal information about the police officer involved and on Thursday identified him by name in a Twitter post.

    The St. Louis County Police Department tweeted that the name given by Anonymous was of a man who is not an officer with the Ferguson police or the neighboring St. Louis County police.

    “Do not release more info on this random citizen,” said a tweet from @stlcountypd.

    “We can’t let anonymous groups or even public groups pressure us into doing anything we don’t think we should do,” Edward Magee, spokesman for the St. Louis County prosecutor’s office, told Reuters.

    A member of Anonymous, who goes by @The Anon Message on Twitter, told Reuters in an email that it was standing by the name it identified. “Of course they’ll deny,” the person said, referring to the police in Missouri.

    Tensions rising

    The community of 21,000 residents has been on edge since the death of Brown last Saturday.

    Ferguson police officials said Brown was shot and killed after fighting with the policeman in his car, but witnesses said the teenager was shot multiple times as he and a friend were walking from a store and that his hands were raised to show he was surrendering.

    The demonstrations have turned violent, with some protesters vandalizing and looting stores.

    Police officials have responded by deploying heavily armed officers in military-style vehicles throughout the community, a sight that has worsened relations between residents and Ferguson’s mostly white political leadership.

    The unrest has prompted school officials in Ferguson to delay the opening of the official school year from Thursday until next Monday.

    The Post’s Lowery tweeted Thursday afternoon that the Ferguson police were going to meet with Brown’s family and local leaders on Friday.

    Reporters arrested

    Hours before Wednesday’s tear gassing, two reporters working in Ferguson – Lowery and Reilly – were arrested while sitting in a fast-food restaurant.

    Both reporters said police dressed in riot gear and carrying assault weapons entered the restaurant and ordered the patrons to leave. Lowery and Reilly took photos and videos of the incident on their cellphones and posted them on Twitter.

    Both men were later released from custody without being charged.

    Missouri governor, senator

    Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said “operational shifts” are ahead for law enforcement in Ferguson.

    Nixon spoke earlier Thursday at a meeting of clergy and community members to discuss law enforcement’s response to demonstrations over the killing in the town of Ferguson.

    The governor told the audience that “you all will see a different tone.”

    Nixon was to hold a press conference at 4 p.m. EDT on Thursday to explain the “operational shift” by police.

    Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill told reporters, “What the community has demanded and received are a lot of eyes on this investigation.”

    She said she was not going to second-guess local and state officials regarding the information they have released to the public.

    “When you put out information in drips and drabs what suffers is the case,” McCaskill said. “If the community would allow the investigation to be completed, the information will become public. The facts will become known.”

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