Obama Calls Michael Brown’s Death ‘Heartbreaking,’ FAA Declares No-Fly Zone Over Ferguson

As protests in the Missouri suburb continue, the federal government is getting more involved.

Protesters are forced by police from the business district into nearby neighborhoods on Aug. 11 in Ferguson, Mo.
National Journal
Marina Koren
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Marina Koren
Aug. 12, 2014, 1:11 p.m.

Three days after a po­lice of­ficer shot and killed an un­armed 18-year-old man, ten­sions are high in the St. Louis sub­urb where it happened, prompt­ing the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to get more in­volved.

Pres­id­ent Obama re­leased a state­ment late Tues­day af­ter­noon, call­ing the shoot­ing death of Mi­chael Brown by a Fer­guson, Mo., po­lice of­ficer on Sat­urday “heart­break­ing.”

“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,” the pres­id­ent said. “We should com­fort each oth­er and talk with one an­oth­er in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.”

Also on Tues­day af­ter­noon, the Fed­er­al Avi­ation Ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounced flight re­stric­tions over Fer­guson, ban­ning pi­lots from fly­ing less than 3,000 feet above the St. Louis sub­urb un­til Monday. The reas­on giv­en for the no-fly was “to provide a safe en­vir­on­ment for law en­force­ment activ­it­ies.”

A spokes­man for the St. Louis County Po­lice De­part­ment, which has led crowd con­trol ef­forts in Fer­guson, told Ars Tech­nica’s Cyr­us Farivar that the de­part­ment re­ques­ted the no-fly zone after its heli­copter was fired at sev­er­al times dur­ing protests Sunday night. The heli­copter was not struck by the gun­fire.

An ex­plan­a­tion from the de­part­ment’s heli­copter dis­patch­er to Think­Pro­gress sug­gests that the re­stric­tion was meant to, at least in part, clear the air of re­port­ers. “It’s just for a no-fly zone be­cause we have mul­tiple heli­copters man­euv­er­ing in the area and we were hav­ing some prob­lems with news air­crafts fly­ing around there,” the dis­patch­er said.

Brown’s death has sparked a series of protests by Fer­guson res­id­ents, and law en­force­ment has re­spon­ded with crowd-con­trol prac­tices like the use of tear gas and rub­ber bul­lets.

The Justice De­part­ment an­nounced Monday that FBI agents were help­ing loc­al law en­force­ment in its in­vest­ig­a­tion of the shoot­ing. The cir­cum­stances of Brown’s death re­main un­clear. Loc­al po­lice say Brown as­saul­ted the of­ficer. Eye­wit­nesses, in­clud­ing a friend of the vic­tim who was there at the time of the shoot­ing, say Brown was run­ning away from the of­ficer when he was killed.

Protests are ex­pec­ted to con­tin­ue in Fer­guson on Tues­day night. “And this is only day three,” a man told The Wash­ing­ton Post‘s Wes­ley Lowery as he re­por­ted from the scene Monday night, tear-gas can­is­ters thrown by po­lice fly­ing past him.

This story has been up­dated with more in­form­a­tion.

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