Updated Tuesday, 4:50 p.m.:
The White House issued the following statement on the shooting death of Mike Brown:
“The death of Michael Brown is heartbreaking, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family and his community at this very difficult time. As Attorney General Holder has indicated, the Department of Justice is investigating the situation along with local officials, and they will continue to direct resources to the case as needed. I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions, but as details unfold, I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country, to remember this young man through reflection and understanding. We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds. Along with our prayers, that’s what Michael and his family, and our broader American community, deserve.”
Less than three hours after Robin Williams’ death was reported, President Barack Obama issued a warm tribute to the beloved actor. “Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between,” Obama’s statement read.
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The sentiment may have comforted millions of fans in shock over the 63-year-old actor’s apparent suicide, but for many of those mourning the death of Mike Brown -- the black teenager who was gunned down by police in suburban St. Louis on Saturday -- Obama’s words added insult to injury.
For the last two days, Brown’s supporters have been calling on the president to issue a statement condemning the 18-year-old’s killing, which sparked a wave of unrest and looting in Ferguson, Missouri, on Sunday, amid a social media campaign calling for justice. Brown, a recent high school graduate, was scheduled to begin college on Monday. Although many details surrounding his death are still unknown, police confirmed that he was unarmed when he was shot and killed during an altercation on the streets of Ferguson.
Brown’s killing followed two other recent incidents of African-American men being killed by police. On Sunday, Brown supporters launched a White House petition calling on Obama to issue a statement on all three killings and demand congressional action. Late Monday afternoon, when the president made brief remarks about new developments in Iraq, some had hoped he would take the time to weigh in on Brown’s death. But the president did not veer from the topic at hand.
For many Twitter users, Obama’s quickly issued statement on Williams’ death on Monday made his continued silence on Brown that much more frustrating.
So Obama has made a statement on ROBIN WILLIAMS and not about the Ferguson riots yet? Or Mike Brown? Please tell me I'm wrong. PLEASE.
â€” Amanda Sherrod (@_RecklessHeart) August 12, 2014
Disturbing that Obama found time to comment on Robin William's death but has released no statement on Mike Brown or what's going in Ferguson
â€” Kaitlin B. (@kaytiimontana) August 12, 2014
Obama got time to talk about Robin Williams killing himself by CHOICE....but not Mike Brown #Ferguson
â€” Stepford Wife (@MerkinRetrogade) August 12, 2014
So Obama issued a statement on the death of Robin Williams but hasn't said anything about Mike Brown or #Ferguson. Uh, I see.
â€” Zee Sankara (@reflexafrika) August 12, 2014
President Obama issues statement on Robin Williams. Still silent on Mike Brown's murder & the situation in Ferguson. https://t.co/NpCBKYe2Dv
â€” TayGo (@taygogo) August 12, 2014
In 2012, the president issued a statement on the killing of Trayvon Martin, noting that, “If I if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” The sentiment was quickly twisted around and used as political ammunition by his foes on Capitol Hill.