Expressing concern over the “violent turn” of events in this St. Louis suburb, President Barack Obama said Thursday that he wanted an open and transparent investigation into the shooting death Saturday of an unarmed 18-year-old black man by the police.
Speaking on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, where he is on vacation, Obama said there was no excuse for the use of excessive force by the police that has persisted in the five days of protests since the shooting of the teenager, Michael Brown.
“Now’s the time for healing,” Obama said. “Now’s the time for peace and calm on the streets of Ferguson.”
Minutes earlier, Gov. Jay Nixon promised that residents of Ferguson were going to see a different tone in the response by the police after five nights of unrest during which the authorities have used tear gas and rubber bullets to control the crowds.
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Officials said Nixon would soon remove the St. Louis County Police Department from handling the protests in Ferguson.
Earlier, Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri said that the police response in Ferguson needed to be demilitarized. Speaking to about 100 people in Missouri, McCaskill said the response to the protests had become part of the problem rather than a solution.
Nixon made his comments after meeting with the St. Louis Metropolitan Clergy Coalition and other civic and faith leaders.
“There has been a fear to hear, not just about this action but how this fits into a much larger and broader context into a deeper march to justice,” Nixon said.
But he also said that people should be allowed to demonstrate as long as it is peaceful.
“We must make sure that justice prevails,” Nixon said, assuring residents that the investigation be done to see that justice is done.
Earlier Thursday, a group identifying itself as Anonymous, the computer hacking collective, disclosed what it said was the name of the police officer who fatally shot Brown.
Writing on Twitter, the group said it would publish additional information about the officer - including his photograph - if it did not receive a response from the St. Louis County Police. Brown was shot Saturday afternoon while walking from a convenience store with a friend.
The name of the officer released by Anonymous could not be immediately confirmed. The St. Louis County Police, however, tweeted that the name released by Anonymous was “not even an officer with St. Louis County or Ferguson.” Calls to the Ferguson and St. Louis County departments were not returned Thursday.
The Ferguson Police Department has declined to release the name of the officer, citing safety concerns for the officer and his family after threats were made against him and the department on social media.