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Obama Appeals for Calm as National Guard Arrives in Missouri


President Barack Obama says U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will travel to Ferguson, Missouri on Wednesday to get an update on the federal probe into the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer that has sparked days of violent protests.

Obama told reporters at the White House Monday that Holder will meet with Department of Justice and FBI officials on the federal, independent civil rights investigation into the August 9 killing of Michael Brown. Holder will also meet with community leaders on efforts to restore peace and calm to the town outside the city of St. Louis.

The president said while a vast majority of people are protesting peacefully, he urged the "small minority" of demonstrators to "not give into anger by looting or carrying guns or attacking police." Obama said such actions only serve to heighten tensions and chaos and undermine "rather than advance justice." He also said "there is no excuse for excessive force by police" or any action that denies the rights of those peacefully protesting.

A curfew in Ferguson was lifted Monday after National Guard troops arrived in the central U.S. town to bolster police forces amid ongoing clashes with protestors.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday called on authorities in Ferguson to use restraint and uphold the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.

The appeal for calm came as an independent autopsy showed Brown was shot at least six times.

With the deployment of the National Guard to Ferguson on Monday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said in a written statement that the overnight curfews in place since Saturday would be lifted.

"With these additional resources in place, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and local law enforcement will continue to respond appropriately to incidents of lawlessness and violence, and protect the civil rights of all peaceful citizens to make their voices heard," Nixon said. "We will not use a curfew tonight."

President Obama said he spoke by phone with Nixon on Monday and that he told the governor that the use of the National Guard must be limited in scope and that he would be monitoring to see whether its presence is helping or hurting progress.

The U.S. president urged the Ferguson community to seek understanding, healing, and “the shared humanity that has been laid bare by this moment.”

Before the curfew began late Sunday, police in body armor and gas masks, accompanied by armored vehicles, fired tear gas at protesters marching toward them. Protesters said the demonstration was peaceful before police began using tear gas. Police officials and the governor accused a "violent criminal element" of escalating the confrontation.

Attorneys for the family of 18-year-old Michael Brown said at a news conference on Monday morning that a preliminary autopsy shows the unarmed black teen was "trying to surrender" when Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot him last weekend in the middle of a Ferguson street.

An independent autopsy at the request of the family showed the 18-year-old was shot six times on August 9, including two bullets to the top of his head.

Family lawyer Benjamin Crump said the Browns requested their own autopsy before the U.S. Department of Justice said it would conduct a federal one.

"They did not want to be left having to rely on the autopsy done by the St. Louis law enforcement agencies - the same individuals they feel are responsible for executing their son in broad daylight," said Crump.

The Brown family's attorney Daryl Parks speaks during a news conference to share preliminary results of a second autopsy done on 18-year-old Michael Brown, in St. Louis County, Missouri, Aug. 18, 2014.

The Brown family's attorney Daryl Parks speaks during a news conference to share preliminary results of a second autopsy done on 18-year-old Michael Brown, in St. Louis County, Missouri, Aug. 18, 2014.

Lawyers and two medical experts told reporters the gunshot wounds to the head support witnesses' statements Brown's head was down and the teen was surrendering when Officer Darren Wilson shot him.

Brown family attorney Daryl Parks on Monday called for charges to be brought against Wilson.

"We believe that given those kinds of facts, this officer should have been arrested," said Parks.

Wilson is on paid administrative leave during the investigation.

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