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Obama Wants More Police Funding After Ferguson Unrest

  • VOA News

President Barack Obama is calling for millions of dollars more in federal spending to improve police forces around the country, in response to the shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white policeman during a street confrontation in the central town of Ferguson, Missouri.

After meeting at the White House Monday with his Cabinet, civil rights leaders and law enforcement officials, Obama announced spending proposals of more than $260 million for police forces across the United States. He said the additional money would pay for 50,000 body cameras for police to wear to record their interactions with civilians, as well as to fund more training for police.

'Simmering distrust'

The president also announced he will set up a task force to study how to improve policing. He said Americans of color do not feel they are being treated fairly by police, creating what he called a "simmering distrust" in communities and weakening the country.

Speaking in Atlanta Monday at the historic church once led by the late Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Attorney General Eric Holder also announced new Justice Department plans aimed at ending racial profiling and ensuring fair and effective policing.

Holder was in Atlanta to meet with law enforcement and community leaders for the first in a series of regional meetings around the country.

Protests have continued in Ferguson and elsewhere since a grand jury's decision last week not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Civil rights investigation

The Justice Department has launched a civil rights investigation into the incident, as well as a broad investigation into the Ferguson Police Department over allegations of unconstitutional policing practices.

Since August, roughly 300 people have been arrested in Ferguson-related protests, which have been marred by looting and arson attacks. Those arrested face charges of unlawful assembly and trespassing, interfering with police activity and resisting arrest, as well as felonies, including second degree burglary, arson, unlawful firearm possession and assault.

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