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Obama urges calm over Michael Brown death in Ferguson

President Obama released a statement on the shooting death of Michael Brown, urging calm in Ferguson.

By Gabrielle Levy
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Obama urges calm over Michael Brown death in Ferguson
Demonstrators chant on the grounds of a burnt out QuikTrip Gas station following a night of looting, rioting and arsons in Ferguson, Missouri on August 11, 2014. People are upset because of the Ferguson Police shooting and death of an unarmed black teenager Michael Brown on August 9, 2014. In all about 20 businesses sustained damage after a candlelight vigil turned violent. UPI/Bill Greenblatt | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Aug. 12 (UPI) -- Amid mounting pressure to weigh in on the death of a teen shot to death by police over the weekend, President Obama released a statement urging caution and calm.

Michael Brown, 18, was killed in a confrontation with police in Ferguson, Mo., on Saturday. Witnesses say police came after the unarmed teen, shooting him while he was on the ground, while police have called Brown the aggressor.

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"I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions, but as details unfold, I urge everyone in Ferguson, Mo., 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."

Obama's statement appeared to gently chide the protests that broke out and later evolved into riots and looting that destroyed several storefronts.

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Police have refused to identify the officer involved in the shooting, other than to say he has been placed on administrative leave, and the images that have emerged of the St. Louis suburb show officers in riot gear shooting tear gas at angry protesters waving signs that read, "stop police brutality" and "we are all Michael Brown."

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On Monday, both the Department of Justice and the St. Louis office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation opened inquiries into the shooting to examine whether the incident involved civil rights violations.

Obama's full statement is below:

"The death of Michael Brown is heartbreaking, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family and his community at this very difficult time. As Attorney General Holder has indicated, the Department of Justice is investigating the situation along with local officials, and they will continue to direct resources to the case as needed. 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. 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."
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