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ACLU seeks free speech protection in Ferguson

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FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) _ The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri is joining the chorus calling for restraint by law enforcement as the St. Louis region awaits a grand jury decision in the Ferguson police shooting.

The ACLU released a letter sent to Gov. Jay Nixon, the superintendent of the Missouri Highway Patrol and other elected leaders and police chiefs imploring them to protect demonstrators’ rights to “protest in public without interference.”

The public appeal follows a succession of news conferences last week by Nixon, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and attorneys for the parents of shooting victim Michael Brown that sought to calm concerns about both widespread public unrest and heavy-handed police tactics.

The grand jury is expected to soon complete its deliberations.