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President Barack Obama has called for calm in Ferguson, Missouri, after the shooting of black teenager Michael Brown by police sparked two nights of violence.

Barack Obama described the death on Saturday of Michael Brown as heartbreaking and added: “Remember this young man through reflection and understanding.”

In two nights of unrest in the St Louis suburb, dozens were arrested, shops looted and tear gas fired by police.

On Tuesday night, anger had turned to reflection at a community forum.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon told a packed crowd at Christ the King United Church of Christ that the shooting felt “like an old wound torn fresh”.

Ferguson’s mayor and police chief also attended the meeting and were greeted with applause.

Barack Obama has called for calm in Ferguson, Missouri, after the shooting of Michael Brown by police sparked two nights of violence

Barack Obama has called for calm in Ferguson, Missouri, after the shooting of Michael Brown by police sparked two nights of violence

Earlier, the Reverend Al Sharpton, the civil rights activist, appealed for peace.

“To become violent in Michael Brown’s name is to betray the gentle giant he was,” he said, flanked by Michael Brown’s parents.

He said no-one had the right to take Michael Brown’s name and “drag it through the mud”.

Police say Michael Brown was shot several times after a struggle in a police car, but witnesses have said the unarmed Brown was shot when he had his arms raised.

Speaking after around 50 demonstrators marched on the police headquarters, Al Sharpton joined others in demanding police reveal the name of the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown.

“The local authorities have put themselves in a position, hiding names, not being transparent, where people will not trust anything but an objective investigation,” Al Sharpton said.

Police say death threats on social media have prevented them naming the officer, who has been placed on paid administrative leave.

Protests during the day on Tuesday were peaceful if tense, but they came after police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse a large crowd in Ferguson the night before.

Police said the crowd threw rocks at officers and there was gunfire coming from the crowd.

Thirty-two people were arrested on Sunday night after people looted shops, vandalized cars and stores, and set a building alight.

The FBI is investigating the shooting and US Attorney General Eric Holder said the case deserved a “fulsome review”. The justice department has also sent its community relations team to the area.

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Michael Brown, the black teenager who was fatally shot by police in Missouri, had his hands raised when the officer approached him with his weapon drawn and fired repeatedly, according to two men who said they witnessed the shooting.

The FBI opened an investigation Monday into the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who police said was shot multiple times Saturday after being confronted by a white officer in Ferguson, a 21,000-resident suburb that’s nearly 70 percent black.

Authorities were vague about exactly what led the officer to open fire, except to say that the shooting was preceded by a scuffle of some kind. It was unclear whether Michael Brown or a man he was with was involved in the altercation.

Investigators have refused to publicly disclose the race of the officer, who is now on administrative leave.

Phillip Walker said he was on the porch of an apartment complex overlooking the scene when he heard a shot and saw a white officer with Michael Brown on the street.

Witnesses say Michael Brown had his hands raised when he was fatally shot by a police officer

Witnesses say Michael Brown had his hands raised when he was fatally shot by a police officer (photo AP)

Dorian Johnson offered a similar account when he told WALB-TV that he and Michael Brown were walking home from a convenience store when a police officer told them to get out of the street and onto the sidewalk. Dorian Johnson said they kept walking, which caused the officer to confront them from his car and again after getting out of his car.

He said the first time the officer fired, he and Michael Brown got scared and ran away.

“He shot again, and once my friend felt that shot, he turned around and put his hands in the air, and he started to get down,” Dorian Johnson said.

“But the officer still approached with his weapon drawn and fired several more shots.”

“We wasn’t causing harm to nobody,” Dorian Johnson said.

“We had no weapons on us at all.”

Phillip Walker acknowledged that he did not see a scuffle or the circumstances surrounding the first gunshot.

The St. Louis County Police Department refused to discuss Dorian Johnson’s remarks, citing the ongoing investigation. However, county Police Chief Jon Belmar previously said that an officer encountered Michael Brown and another man outside an apartment complex, and that one of the men pushed the officer into his squad car and they struggled over the officer’s weapon.

The FBI is looking into possible civil rights violations arising from the shooting, said Cheryl Mimura, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s St. Louis field office. She said the FBI would be investigating regardless of the public attention surrounding the matter.

Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement that the case deserves a thorough review.

Nearly three dozen people were arrested following a candlelight vigil Sunday night after crowds looted and burned stores, vandalized vehicles, assaulted and threatened reporters, and taunted officers who tried to block access to parts of the city.

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