U.S. President Barack Obama had a few words for those involved in the violent protests taking place in Baltimore after the funeral of Freddie Gray, who died earlier this month while in police custody.
“When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they’re not protesting, they’re not making a statement. They’re stealing,” the president said during a press conference Tuesday in front of the White House with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “When they burn down a building, they’re committing arson. And they’re destroying and undermining businesses and opportunities in their own communities that rob jobs and opportunity from people in that area.”
Obama declared there was “no excuse” for the violence, which resulted in the injuries of 15 police officers and the arrests of dozens of local citizens.
This was the first time Obama addressed the riots in Baltimore, which broke out Monday night. More than 200 people were arrested and 150 fires reported following Gray’s funeral. Gray, 25, died earlier this month after suffering a spine injury while in police custody. Obama also said police departments and local communities had to do some “soul searching.”
"We as a country have to do some soul searching," Obama said. "This is not new. It's been going on for decades."
Five hundred National Guardsmen converged on Baltimore after Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency, and the Department of Justice is investigating whether Baltimore police officers will be prosecuted for Gray’s death.