UK & World News

  • 15 August 2014, 7:41

Ferguson Shooting: Rallies Held Across US

Hundreds of people have marched through the streets of a Missouri suburb to protest against the death of a black teenager shot dead by police.

The peaceful protests come after violent clashes between demonstrators and police in full riot gear, who have fired tear gas and smoke bombs in recent nights.

Michael Brown's death, and the police handling of the protests, have made headlines across America.

President Barack Obama said there was "no excuse" for excessive force by police in Ferguson - a town seething at the fatal shooting of the 18-year-old.

The president urged all sides to "take a step back" after several nights of demonstrations following Brown's death on Saturday.

"Now is the time for healing," said Mr Obama, speaking during a working holiday in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.

"Now is the time for peace and calm on the streets of Ferguson. Now is the time for an open and transparent process to see that justice is done."

The latest demonstration in Ferguson, a suburb of St Louis, was supervised by the Missouri State Highway Patrol and its African-American captain, Ron Johnson, who grew up in the community.

Several marchers stopped to shake hands with police and troopers, in marked contrast to violent scenes earlier this week.

Vigils were also held in more than 90 cities across the country to observe a National Moment of Silence.

Rallies took place in Detroit, Los Angeles and New York, where people were asked to wear a red ribbon, cloth or bandana as a mark of solidarity.

Some of the biggest protests were in Manhattan's Union Square and Times Square.

Police say Mr Brown was shot dead during a scuffle with an officer, but a witness told local media Mr Brown had his hands in the air when he was killed.

The shooting has stoked tensions in Ferguson, where two-thirds of the 21,000 residents are black, while all but three of the police force's officers are white.

Police have refused to release the identity of the officer who shot Mr Brown, citing death threats and concerns for his safety.

St Louis County Police have previously been accused of racially profiling black people and of racist hiring procedures.

Attorney General Eric Holder said on Thursday he was concerned the use of military equipment by police in Ferguson was sending a "conflicting message".

A Democratic congressman, meanwhile, said he would introduce a bill to prevent US military surplus equipment being distributed to law enforcement agencies.

Representative Hank Johnson of Georgia said the city streets should be a place for businesses and families, "not tanks and M16s".