Weighing his words carefully, Obama said it was clear that disparities in how blacks and whites are treated and sentenced must be addressed, calling for more safeguards and training to prevent missteps. At the same time, he acknowledged the difficult situation that police officers sometimes face.
“There are young black men that commit crime. We can argue about why that happened — because the poverty they were born into or the school systems that failed them or what have you— but if they commit a crime, then they need to be prosecuted,” Obama said. “Because every community has an interest in public safety.”
Obama’s remarks on the crisis were the first since the situation in Ferguson escalated over the weekend, with Nixon, the Missouri governor, ordering a midnight curfew for Ferguson and ordering the National Guard to help restore order. Nixon lifted that curfew on Monday, but tensions remained high the morning after police once again deployed tear gas in response to what they said were reports of gunfire, looting and vandalism by protesters.
The ongoing confrontation, with military-style vehicles rolling through suburban streets, has left citizens across the country wondering how such a war-like scene could play out in America’s heartland.
Shortly before speaking to reporters Monday, Obama received an update from top advisers including Holder and White House Counsel Neil Eggleston. Obama has asked the Justice Department and FBI to investigate Brown’s death, and Holder over the weekend ordered a federal medical examiner to perform a third autopsy on Brown.
Obama weighed in on the crisis during a brief break in his annual summer vacation at Martha’s Vineyard, where the president was spending two weeks with his family while juggling multiple crises in the U.S. and overseas. Obama returned to the White House late Monday and planned to return to the Massachusetts island on Tuesday. His brief return to Washington had been announced by the White House before the standoff in Ferguson began.
Brown was unarmed when he was fatally shot by a police officer on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, a predominantly black community that long has been at odds with the mostly white police department. Results of an independent autopsy released Monday by Brown’s family determined that Brown was shot at least six times, including twice in the head.
Remembering Mike Brown On His 19th Birthday (May 20, 1996- August 9, 2014)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Mike Brown, just a normal 18-year-old on his way to college
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2. Mike Brown playing around with a family member
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3. Mike Brown's mother Lesley McFadden and father, Michael Brown, Sr. at a press conference.
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4. Lesley McSpadden, Mike Brown's mother and his stepfather, Louis Head, comfort each other after his death.
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5. Residents of Ferguson, Missouri create a memorial where Mike Brown was killed.
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6. Clergy and residents gather in Ferguson.
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7. Police in riot gear watch protesters in Ferguson.
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8. Police and protestors come face to face in Ferguson.
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9. Riot police on the scene in Ferguson, Missouri.
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10. Protesters in Ferguson, Missouri.
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12. Peaceful protest in Ferguson, Missouri.
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13. Howard University students stand in solidarity with Ferguson, Missouri.
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14. National Moment of Silence protest around the country, this one shut down Times Square
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15. Missouri Highway Patrol captain Ron Johnson changes the police tone in Ferguson, Missouri.
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16. Milwaukee, Wisconsin protestors stand in solidarity with Ferguson, Missouri.
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17. Out of the mouths of babes.
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18. A candle for peace glows as part of a vigil in St. Louis
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19. Teens in Philadelphia observe the NMOS'14. It's all about LOVE.
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20. Mike Brown allegedly involved in store confrontation/robbery before his death.
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21. Police stats from Ferguson, Missouri.
Source:Mother Jones infographic
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22. Protesters vandalize a police vehicle outside of the Ferguson city hall on Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.
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23. Police officers confront protesters Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.
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25. Police shoot pepper spray toward protesters in front of the Ferguson Police Department on Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.
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26. In this aerial photo,people look at a row of charred cars at a used car dealership, Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Dellwood, Mo.
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27. Citizens protest the Ferguson Decision in Dallas, TX.
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28. Citizens protest the Ferguson Decision in Atlanta, Georgia.
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29. Citizens protest the Ferguson Decision in Boston, Massachusetts.
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30. Citizens protest the Ferguson Decision in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
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