Obama Dispatches Eric Holder to Ferguson in Wake of Shooting

Obama Dispatches Eric Holder to Ferguson in Wake of Shooting

Ferguson is the first high level official to visit the Missouri suburb.
Attorney General Eric Holder will travel to Ferguson, Mo., Wednesday, President Obama announced Monday, making him the first high-level U.S. official to visit the St. Louis suburb after more than a week of public outrage at the death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

Holder will meet with FBI agents and Justice Department personnel conducting the federal criminal investigation into the shooting, as well as other community leaders "whose support is so critical to bringing about peace and calm in Ferguson," the president told reporters.

Mr. Obama returned from his vacation in Martha's Vineyard Sunday night for two days of meetings in Washington. On Monday, he received an update on the latest developments in Ferguson from Holder as well as a briefing from his national security team on Iraq.

Over the weekend, Holder ordered the Justice Department -- which is looking into possible civil rights violations in the case -- to arrange for an additional autopsy on Brown's body to be performed by a federal medical examiner.

The clashes between police and protesters in the St. Louis suburb have continued for more than a week as authorities have struggled to find a response that does not provoke more anger. Mr. Obama urged people to "seek some understanding rather than simply holler at each other."

"We have all seen images of protesters and law enforcement in the streets. It's clear that the vast majority of people are peacefully protesting. What's also clear is that a small minority of individuals are not," he said.

"While I understand the passions and the anger that arise over the death of Michael Brown, giving into that anger by looting or carrying guns and even attacking the police only serves to raise tensions and stir chaos. It undermines rather than advancing justice."

"Let me also be clear that our constitutional rights to speak freely, to assemble and to report in the press must be vigilantly safeguarded especially in moments like these. There is no excuse for excessive force by police, or any action that denies people the right to protest peacefully," he added.

Over the weekend, Gov. Jay Nixon, D-Missouri, tried nightly curfews to convince people to leave the streets, with limited success. He announced Monday that the curfew would be lifted but that there would be a ban on static assembly. He also called up the state's National Guard.

"Those are real emotions. People need to grieve and they need to speak, but we also need to keep the rule of law and peace, and I think we need to balance all three of those," Nixon said in an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday.
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