The governor of the US state of Missouri has lifted a curfew in a St. Louis suburb after a week of unrest over the police shooting of a black teenager. President Barack Obama has appealed for restraint from both sides.
Police in the Missouri town of Ferguson deployed tear gas against protesters shortly before midnight local time (0500 UTC). The small crowd had gathered near the residential street of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old black man shot dead by a white police officer on August 9.
The renewed confrontation between authortiies and demonstrators occurred just hours after Missouri Governor Jay Nixon had lifted a nighttime curfew imposed in an effort to quell sometimes violent protests in the St. Louis suburb.
Nixon had also announced that the National Guard had been deployed with “limited responsibilities” to protect a command center in Ferguson that had been the target of protesters the night before.
“Last night, Ferguson, Missouri experienced a very difficult and dangerous night as a result of a violent criminal element intent upon terrorizing the community,” the governor said in a statement, referring to violence which had broken out on Sunday.
He added that the state needed to continue to protect its citizens “as long as there are vandals and looters and threats to the people and property of Ferguson.”
Obama weighs in
Speaking at the White House on Monday, President Barack Obama said he had spoken to the governor about the deployment of the National Guard units and urged Nixon to ensure that they be used in a “limited and appropriate” manner.
“I’ll be watching over the next several days, to assess whether, in fact, it’s helping rather than hindering progress in Ferguson,” Obama said.
He also announced that he had instructed Attorney General Eric Holder to travel to Ferguson on Wednesday to meet with officials from the FBI and the Department of Justice investigating Brown’s death.
Obama said that while most of the protesters had been peaceful, a small minority had resorted to violence, something he said which “undermines, rather than advancing, justice.”
He also called on both law enforcement and the protesters to exercise restraint.
“To a community in Ferguson that is rightly hurting and looking for answers, let me call once again for us to seek some understanding rather than simply holler at each other. Let’s seek to heal rather than to wound each other,” he said.
Brown ‘shot six times’
Earlier on Monday, a lawyer for Michael Brown’s family said the unarmed teenager had been shot six times. This was the finding of a private autopsy commission by the family.
At a news conference, family lawyer Daryl Parks said the results of the autopsy had made a clear case against the police officer who killed the 18-year-old Brown, showing that one bullet hit him in the “very top of his head” and that another exited near his eye. “His head was in a downward position,” Parks added. “Given those kind of facts, this officer should have been arrested.”
Local officials have not released the results of their own autopsy.
The police officer identified as the shooter, Darren Wilson, has been placed on paid administrative leave.
pfd/se (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)