President Obama on Tuesday offered his “deepest condolences” to the family and community of Michael Brown, the unarmed black Missouri teenager who was shot to death by police Saturday.
In a statement, Obama said that the 18-year-old’s death is “heartbreaking,” adding that he and the first lady extend their condolences to Brown’s family.
Obama said the death has “prompted strong passions” but urged people to remember Brown, through “reflection and understanding.”
“I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions, but as details unfold, I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country, to remember this young man through reflection and understanding,” Obama said. “We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds. Along with our prayers, that’s what Michael and his family, and our broader American community, deserve.”
Attorney General Eric Holder has said the Department of Justice is investigating the shooting. Obama said the administration will “continue to direct resources to the case as needed.”
Obama’s comments came after protests over Brown’s death turned contentious late Monday and early Tuesday, leading to an hours-long standoff in Ferguson between several dozen local residents and dozens of officers in full riot gear just blocks from where he was killed.
Not long after Obama’s statement, the Federal Aviation Administration said that it had banned flights from operating below 3,000 feet over Ferguson, at the request of police. The agency’s notice said it was issued “to provide a safe environment for law enforcement activities.”
The temporary restrictions were implemented at the request of the St. Louis County, Mo., Police Department. Police asked for the restrictions on Monday because their helicopter was shot at “multiple times on Sunday night,” Brian Schellman, a spokesman for the police, said in an e-mail to The Post.
Also on Tuesday, several hundred residents descended on the St. Louis County prosecutor’s office. Standing on the steps of the county building, the protesters chanted “no justice, no peace,” before taking to the streets.
“Hands up, don’t shoot,” they yelled as they made their way through downtown Clayton.
Later, they came face to face with officers guarding the prosecutors’ office, chanting, “Who do you serve? Who do you protect?”
The consensus — among many residents, community leaders, and journalists both visiting and local — is that the unrest that has gripped this town for fours days has only just begun.
The FBI on Monday launched a civil rights investigation into the fatal shooting that has pushed the question of race and the use of lethal force again to the forefront of national discussion.
Police had been expected to release on Tuesday the name of the officer who shot and killed Brown, an 18-year-old who would have begun college on Monday. But Timothy Zoll, a spokesman for the Ferguson Police Department, told The Washington Post that the name won’t be released because of threats made against Ferguson police officers on social media sites.
The officer involved in the incident has been placed on paid administrative leave. There is no timetable for when police could release the officer’s name, Zoll said.
A group claiming to be associated with the hacking collective Anonymous said Tuesday that it knew the name of the officer and was working to be sure it had the right person before identifying him. This group also said it had launched cyberattacks on the city of Ferguson’s Web sites following the police response to looting on Sunday night.
Ferguson’s site and e-mail systems were both hit with cyberattacks that appeared to be continuing into Monday evening, Pam Hylton, the assistant city manager, told The Post.