FERGUSON, Mo., Aug 14 (Reuters) - A U.S. military program that sends armored cars, camouflage and other battlefield equipment to police departments is under fresh scrutiny as demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri, enter their fifth straight night of protests over the death of an unarmed black teenager.
The hundreds of people who have gathered each night since 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by an unnamed police officer last Saturday have been met with police clad in body armor and using tear gas, smoke bombs and stun grenades.
On Thursday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said it was clear the scenes playing out in the St. Louis suburb "cannot continue." And while he condemned acts of violence and looting by some protesters, he said it was the role of law enforcement to reduce tensions in the city, rather than exacerbate them.
"At a time when we must seek to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the local community, I am deeply concerned that the deployment of military equipment and vehicles sends a conflicting message," Holder said.