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Council of Europe 'concerned' about events in US city

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe expressed concern Thursday over what he called the use of excessive force against protesters and journalists in an American city wracked by protests. The city of Ferguson in St. Louis, Missouri, has endured more than a week of unrest fueled by the fatal shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white police officer.
In the ensuing protests, the area's police department indefinitely suspended an officer from its force after he drew his weapons and threatened demonstrators and journalists, including an Anadolu Agency correspondent. Thorbjorn Jagland called for "both public authorities and protesters" to "show restraint and responsibility," in a statement Thursday.
"I am particularly concerned by the reported use of excessive force by the police against peaceful protesters and their arrest, including journalists covering the events, as this undermines the full exercise of human rights, starting with the rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression," read the statement issued by his office.
He added that he expects the United States to uphold the principles and values of the Council of Europe.
"I trust that a proper investigation will be carried out into the killing," he said.
Journalist groups expressed concern Thursday about the police assault. International Federation of Journalists President Jim Boumelha stated that his organization was “angered by [the] shameful treatment of journalists during unrest in Ferguson,” while Reporters Without Borders' Head of Americas' Desk Camille Soulier expressed "deep concern" to the Anadolu Agency over what she called the "deliberate targeting of journalists."
"We demand an investigation to be put in place to punish those responsible among law enforcement as well among protesters... these crimes must not go unpunished in order not to happen again," she told AA. Boumelha, meanwhile, called the incident "a serious attack on the right to know of US citizens," adding that it "marks a significant threat to a free press that is supposed to be protected and [is] a violation of the First Amendment." AA correspondent Bilgin Sasmaz was wounded and detained by police late Tuesday while covering the protests. In video footage released shortly after his detention, an officer can be seen threatening to kill him.

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