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  • 14 August 2014, 23:41

Obama Rebukes 'Excessive Force' By Police

President Barack Obama has said there is "no excuse" for "excessive force" by Missouri police in a town angered by the fatal shooting of a black teenager.

The president urged all sides to "take a step back", following Saturday's racially charged death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in the town of Ferguson.

The Missouri governor later named an African-American state State Highway Patrol captain to assume control of security in the St Louis suburb, following four nights of public disorder.

"Now is the time for healing," said Mr Obama, speaking during a working holiday in St 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."

In a carefully worded statement, Mr Obama denounced those who had attacked police.

He added: "There's no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protesters."

The president also said police should not be "bullying or arresting" journalists, after two reporters were briefly detained in Ferguson.

The town's law enforcement has defended the use of tear gas and smoke bombs to disperse protesters in Ferguson.

Officers clad in riot gear again faced a large crowd on Wednesday night, some of whom hurled Molotov cocktails and rocks at officers. More than 10 people were arrested.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said of the town: "Lately it has looked a little bit more like a war zone and that is unacceptable."

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.

On Thursday, the hacker group Anonymous tweeted what it said was the name of the officer.

But the St Louis County Police Department tweeted that the name leaked by the cyber-attackers was of a man who is not an officer with Ferguson police or the neighbouring St Louis County police.

The officer, who has been placed on administrative leave, sustained facial swelling injuries in the incident that led to Mr Brown's death, Ferguson police say.

Attorney General Eric Holder said on Thursday he is 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".

The FBI and Justice Department are conducting a civil-rights investigation into Saturday's shooting.

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

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