U.S. President Barack Obama is scheduled to meet Monday with civil rights leaders and members of his cabinet in response to the Ferguson, Missouri, protests resulting from a grand jury choosing not to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of an unarmed black teen. Earlier in the day, several protesters in St. Louis were arrested. Demonstrations increased in intensity last week after the grand jury’s decision.
The meeting among Obama, cabinet members and civil rights leaders is expected to include a discussion about "how communities and law enforcement can work together to build trust to strengthen neighborhoods across the country," the president's daily schedule indicates. The schedule indicates the president will meet with the Cabinet at noon EST and civil right leaders at 2 p.m. A meeting with elected officials, law enforcement figures, and community and faith leaders is set for 2:50 p.m.
The attendees are to talk about federal programs that give law enforcement agencies unused equipment from the Defense Department free of charge. The programs came under fire after military-style weapons were used to disperse Ferguson protesters in August shortly after Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, 18.
Protests against the lack of an indictment against Wilson went beyond Ferguson, with similar demonstrations in Seattle and Washington. A protest in the nation’s capital Sunday shut down Interstate 395, a major highway. A White House official told CBS the protests “spotlight [the] need for strong, collaborative relationships between police and communities.”
Numerous demonstrations broke out Sunday in St. Louis, with protesters targeting the Edward Jones Dome, where the NFL’s St. Louis Rams were taking on the Oakland Raiders. Six protesters were arrested, the St. Louis Police Department tweeted:
This afternoon, 6 individuals were arrested during protests in Downtown #STL - 4 in Kiener Plaza & 2 at 9th/Cole. There were no injuries.
â€” St. Louis, MO Police (@SLMPD) November 30, 2014