Obama urges calm in Ferguson amid high tensions

Obama urges calm in Ferguson amid high tensions

Sat Nov 22, 2014 7:54AM GMT

US President Obama has urged for calm in Ferguson amid high tensions ahead of a grand jury decision on whether to file criminal charges against a white policeman for the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager.

In an interview with ABC News on Friday, Obama called on the residents of the city and all others to “keep protests peaceful” and not use the shooting death of Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson “as an excuse for violence.”

“I think first and foremost, keep protests peaceful,” Obama told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos during an interview conducted in Las Vegas.

“This is a country that allows everybody to express their views. Allows them to peacefully assemble, to protest actions that they think are unjust, but using any event as an excuse for violence is contrary to rule of law and contrary to who we are,” he added.

A 12-member St. Louis County grand jury is preparing to announce whether it would indict Wilson for killing 18-year-old Brown on August 9 in Ferguson, a predominantly black suburb of St. Louis with about 20,000 people.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay told reporters on Friday that he did not know when a decision by the grand jury would be revealed, “but we expect it will be coming very shortly.”

About a dozen protesters gathered outside the Ferguson police station on Friday evening for the third night in a row, demanding the indictment of Wilson and an end to police violence against African Americans.

Brown’s death triggered weeks of protests and clashes between police and demonstrators in Ferguson. At times, the police used unnecessary and disproportionate force.

Black people across the United States are far more likely to be stopped, searched and arrested by police than any other racial group, according to a recent analysis by USA TODAY.

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