White House aides to attend funeral of black teen

Updated: 2014-08-24 23:22


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FERGUSON, Missouri - US President Barack Obama is sending three White House aides to the funeral of Michael Brown, the black man whose fatal shooting by a white police officer sparked days of racial unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.

Leading the group for Monday's service will be Broderick Johnson, the chairman of the My Brother's Keeper Task Force, an Obama initiative that aims to empower young minorities, the White House said Sunday.

He will be accompanied by two representatives from the White House Office of Public Engagement, including deputy director Marlon Marshall, who officials say is a St. Louis native and attended high school with Brown's mother.

In Ferguson early Sunday, tensions briefly flared then subsided as nightly protests continued two weeks after a white officer fatally shot an unarmed black 18-year-old.

Police reported only a handful of arrests, and traffic flowed freely along the West Florissant Avenue commercial corridor near the suburban St. Louis apartment complex where Ferguson officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown six times in the middle of the street on Aug. 9.

"I think some of the frustration is dying down because more information is coming out,'' said Alana Ramey, 25, a St. Louis resident. "I think there is more action going on. People are being more organized and that is helping.''

The protesters included a dozen students and recent graduates of Harvard University who arrived in Ferguson after a 20-hour drive. They chatted amicably with Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, who commended their passion and encouraged them to remain civically active.

"When we go back to our communities, there's a Ferguson near us,'' said the Rev. Willie Bodrick II, 26, of Roxbury, Massachusetts, a youth minister and recent graduate of Harvard Divinity School.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon reiterated his support Sunday for sticking with the St. Louis County prosecutor, who has convened a grand jury to begin hearing evidence and to decide whether to indict the officer. The federal government also has launched its own investigation into the shooting.

The images of well-armed suburban police officers confronting protesters in Ferguson with tear gas and rubber bullets after the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson prompted widespread criticism of how local law enforcement agencies have used federal grants to obtain military gear from the Pentagon. President Barack Obama ordered the White House to conduct a review of those programs after calling for more separation between the nation's armed forces and civilian police.