President Barack Obama spoke at a press conference after protesters stormed the streets in Ferguson following the grand jury’s decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown. The president said even though racial discrimination still exists in some situations, he urged a constructive response, and said vandalism and violence are not the solution.
It was going to be an “intense disagreement” throughout the nation no matter what the grand jury decided, but the president wanted people to accept the decision since “we are a nation built on the rule of law.” He continued, “There are Americans who agree with it and there are Americans who are deeply disappointed and even angry.”
He asked for protesters to remain peaceful and then read a statement written by the teen's father, Michael Sr., before the official announcement was made. “‘Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer. No matter what the grand jury decides I do not want my son’s death to be in vain. I want it to lead to incredible change.’” The president urged Americans to honor the wishes of Michael’s parents.
He then turned his attention to law enforcement. “Our police officers put their lives on the line for us every single day,” Obama said. “They have a tough job to do.” The president added, “As they do their jobs in the coming days, they need to work with the community not against the community.”
Ultimately, President Obama said, what happened in Ferguson “speaks to broader challenges that we still face as a nation.” He said there is a deep mistrust between law enforcement and communities of color. Some of it is because of “racial discrimination.”
“This is not just an issue for Ferguson,” he said. “This is an issue for America.” Though there has been progress, “There are still problems and communities of color are not just making these problems up.”
“These are real issues,” he said. “We can’t deny them.”
“The good news is we know there are good things we can do to help,” the president finished.
Obama has spoken out about race several time during his presidential candidacy and his presidency, including these five instances when the president expressed his views and personal experiences about race.
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