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Obama: No Excuse For Excessive Force By MO Police

August 14, 2014, 12:59 PM

President Barack Obama says there is no excuse for the use of excessive force by police in the tense aftermath of the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, and no excuse for violence against the police.

In brief remarks near his vacation spot in Martha's Vineyard, Obama said he wants an open and transparent investigation of the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, so that justice is done.

He also said police shouldn't be arresting and bullying journalists who are doing their jobs. Two reporters were taken into custody and briefly jailed Wednesday evening in the St. Louis suburb.

Governor vows change in Ferguson police response

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says "operational shifts" are ahead for law enforcement in the St. Louis suburb where a police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager.

Nixon spoke 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."

He did not elaborate on the changes ahead, but they are likely to be explained at a news conference planned for later in the day.

The governor said he was late to the meeting because he had been on the phone with President Barack Obama, who sent "wishes of peace and justice."

Police defend response to protests

Police in Ferguson, Missouri, are defending their use of tear gas and smoke bombs, after another night of chaos in the St. Louis suburb in the aftermath.

Police say officers last 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.

A police spokesman says it's "scary" for officers dealing with the protests -- who hear gunshots and "don't know where they're coming from."

But the response is drawing criticism. Civil rights activist Al Sharpton says the Justice Department should monitor the way the police are handling the crisis. 

Among those arrested was St. Louis Alderman Antonio French, who has been chronicling the protests on social media. He tells a radio station (KMOX) that what he calls the "heavy-handed approach by police" is "escalating the situation." And he says "more people are going to get hurt if this keeps up."

But county Police Chief Jon Belmar says his officers have responded with "an incredible amount of restraint."

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