Protesters mark two weeks since Ferguson shooting

Unarmed black teen Michael Brown was shot dead by a white Ferguson police officer.

Demonstrators protest the killing of teenager Michael Brown. United states, St. Louis on 12 August. Picture: AFP

FERGUSON - Demonstrators in the U.S. town of Ferguson, Missouri, on Saturday marked two weeks since a white policeman shot an unarmed black teenager to death, holding smaller, quieter protests as supporters of the officer rallied separately and called the shooting justified.

The demonstrations remained peaceful as darkness fell, marking the fourth night of relative calm for the St. Louis suburb following nightly spasms of unrest since Michael Brown, 18, was shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on 9 August.

The area's main street was open to traffic and police presence was down sharply from just 24 hours earlier.

Shortly before midnight, police responded to a small group playing music loudly outside a McDonald's, resulting in some tense moments that led to three people being arrested. The crowd moved on as urged by police and a civilian with a megaphone.

Authorities had arrested dozens nightly as police clashed with demonstrators, focusing attention on often-troubled U.S. race relations. Police came under sharp criticism for making mass arrests and using heavy-handed tactics and military gear widely seen as provoking more anger and violence.

President Barack Obama has ordered a review of the distribution of military hardware to state and local police out of concern over how such equipment has been used in Ferguson, a senior administration official said on Saturday.

The White House also announced that three presidential aides would attend Brown's funeral on Monday.

On Saturday morning, about 70 people marked the two weeks since Brown's death by praying at a makeshift memorial where he was shot and launching into a rendition of "We Shall Overcome" at the time when the fatal encounter began.

Tracey Stewart-Parks, 52, who works in accounting for a health care firm, carried a sign that read "Mike Brown was someone's son - I walk for their son." She said something similar could have happened to any of her four sons.

"All of them have had to learn the rules of driving black and they're lucky it wasn't them," she said. "This has been a long time coming and I do believe we shall overcome. It's time to rip the Band-Aid off this old wound. It's time for change."

In the afternoon, some 500 people braved triple-digit heat to march in a St. Louis County rally, led by the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP), wearing brightly coloured T-shirts, many holding umbrellas for shade as temperatures hit 98 degrees Fahrenheit (37 Celsius).

Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, commander of the police response to the demonstrations, who is black, and St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, who is white, joined the head of the march.