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Tuesday 16 September 2014

Protesters and police side-by-side

Published 24/08/2014 | 04:51

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Normandy High School American football players observe a moment of silence for Michael Brown (AP)

Protesters marched peacefully as calm prevailed for a fourth day in the US suburb where an unarmed black 18-year-old was shot by a white policeman, sparking more than a week of unrest.

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Several community activists walked side-by-side with police officers in uniform down one of the main streets in Ferguson, Missouri, that had been filled with armoured vehicles and officers in riot gear less than a week ago.

"I think some of the frustration is dying down because more information is coming out," said Alana Ramey, 25, a St. Louis resident who joined the afternoon march, which included many children.

The images of well-armed suburban police officers confronting protesters in Ferguson with tear gas and rubber bullets after the August 9 shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson prompted widespread criticism.

They raised questions over how local law enforcement agencies have used government grants to obtain military gear from the Pentagon.

President Barack Obama ordered the White House to conduct a review of those programmes after calling for more separation between the nation's armed forces and civilian police.

The government also has launched its own investigation into the shooting, sending dozens of FBI agents to Ferguson to question witnesses.

A St Louis County prosecutor has convened a grand jury to begin hearing evidence in the case and to decide whether to indict Mr Wilson.

Supporters of Mr Wilson rallied at a sports pub owned by the family of Mark Rodebaugh, a 21-year veteran of the St Louis police department.

Mr Rodebaugh said he wanted to have the event because Mr Wilson's name has been "dragged through the mud".

He said it felt good to see supporters who were not either officers themselves or relatives of officers.

"We've got a hard job to do," he said. "We want people to know they shouldn't give up on law enforcement."

Mr Wilson has not spoken publicly since the shooting. He has been on paid administrative leave.

Earlier, Normandy High School, which Mr Brown attended, observed a moment of silence for him at the start of an American football game.

"This is something we shouldn't forget," said Donald Vaughan Cross, 77.

"This is something that should be on the minds of everybody - young ones and old ones. And the old ones like myself, we remember. It's still going on. When is it going to stop? When is it going to end?"

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