[guest post by Dana]
President Obama, back in Washington D.C. for a few days, spoke about the ongoing situation in Ferguson. He stated that Attorney General Holder will be traveling to Ferguson this week to meet with FBI investigators, DOJ personnel and community leaders.
Specifically regarding the looters and the protestors, he had this to say:
We have all seen images of protestors and law enforcement in the streets. It’s clear that the vast majority of people are peacefully protesting. What’s also clear is that a small minority of individuals are not. While I understand the passions and the anger that arise over the death of Michael Brown, giving into that anger by looting or carrying guns and even attacking the police only serves to raise tensions and stir chaos. It undermines rather than advancing justice.
Let me also be clear that our constitutional rights to speak freely, to assemble and to report in the press must be vigilantly safeguarded, especially in moments like these. There’s no excuse for excessive force by police or any action that denies people the right to protest peacefully. Ours is a nation of laws for the citizens who live under them and for the citizens who enforce them.
Valerie Jarrett explains what informs the view of the president:
He looks at this – I spoke with him this morning – his concern was clearly thinking about it as a perspective of a parent, and you want to know when you send your kids to school, when you leave your home they’re going to be safe,” Jarrett said in an interview with American Urban Radio’s April Ryan.
Obama’s priority is to keep the citizens of Ferguson safe, Jarrett explained, calling it “paramount” on the president’s mind.
I want to add a few more of the president’s comments today. These were in response to a reporter’s question (at first link above):
I have to be very careful about not pre-judging these events before investigations are completed because although these are, you know, issues of local jurisdiction, you know, the DOJ works for me, and when they’re conducting an investigation, I’ve got to make sure that I don’t look like I’m putting my thumb on the scales one way or the other. So it’s hard for me to address a specific case beyond making sure that it’s conducted in a way that is transparent, where there is accountability, where people can trust the process hoping that as a consequence of a fair and just process, you end up with a fair and just outcome.
But as I think I’ve said in some past occasions, part of the ongoing challenge of perfecting our unions has involved dealing with communities that feel left behind who as a consequence of tragic histories often find themselves isolated, often find themselves without hope, without economic prospects. You have young men of color in many communities who are more likely to end up in jail or in the criminal justice system than they are in a good job or in college. And, you know, part of my job that I can do I think without any potential conflicts is to get at those root causes.