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  • The President: Good evening everybody.

  • As you know, a few moments ago,

  • the grand jury deliberating the death of Michael Brown

  • issued its decision.

  • It's an outcome that, either way,

  • was going to be subject of intense disagreement

  • not only in Ferguson, but across America.

  • So I want to just say a few words

  • suggesting how we might move forward.

  • First and foremost, we are a nation built

  • on the rule of law.

  • And so we need to accept that this decision

  • was the grand jury's to make.

  • There are Americans who agree with it,

  • and there are Americans who are deeply

  • disappointed, even angry.

  • It's an understandable reaction.

  • But I join Michael's parents in asking anyone

  • who protests this decision to do so peacefully.

  • Let me repeat Michael's father's words: "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, positive change,

  • change that makes the St. Louis region better

  • for everyone."

  • Michael Brown's parents have lost more than anyone.

  • We should be honoring their wishes.

  • I also appeal to the law enforcement officials

  • in Ferguson and the region to show care and restraint

  • in managing peaceful protests that may occur.

  • Understand, our police officers put their lives

  • on the line for us every single day.

  • They've got a tough job to do to maintain public safety

  • and hold accountable those who break the law.

  • As they do their jobs in the coming days,

  • they need to work with the community,

  • not against the community, to distinguish the handful

  • of people who may use the grand jury's decision

  • as an excuse for violence -- distinguish them from

  • the vast majority who just want their voices heard

  • around legitimate issues in terms of how

  • communities and law enforcement interact.

  • Finally, we need to recognize that the situation in Ferguson

  • speaks to broader challenges that we still face as a nation.

  • The fact is, in too many parts of this country,

  • a deep distrust exists between law enforcement

  • and communities of color.

  • Some of this is the result of the legacy

  • of racial discrimination in this country.

  • And this is tragic, because nobody needs good policing

  • more than poor communities with higher crime rates.

  • The good news is we know there are things we can do to help.

  • And I've instructed Attorney General Holder to work with

  • cities across the country to help build better relations

  • between communities and law enforcement.

  • That means working with law enforcement officials

  • to make sure their ranks are representative

  • of the communities they serve.

  • We know that makes a difference.

  • It means working to train officials so that law

  • enforcement conducts itself in a way that

  • is fair to everybody.

  • It means enlisting the community actively on what

  • should be everybody's goal, and that is to prevent crime.

  • And there are good people on all sides of this debate,

  • as well as in both Republican and Democratic parties,

  • that are interested not only in lifting up best practices --

  • because we know that there are communities who have been able

  • to deal with this in an effective way -- but also who

  • are interested in working with this administration and local

  • and state officials to start tackling much-needed

  • criminal justice reform.

  • So those should be the lessons that we draw from

  • these tragic events.

  • We need to recognize that this is not just an issue for

  • Ferguson, this is an issue for America.

  • We have made enormous progress in race relations over

  • the course of the past several decades.

  • I've witnessed that in my own life.

  • And to deny that progress I think is to deny America's

  • capacity for change.

  • But what is also true is that there are still problems

  • and communities of color aren't just making these problems up.

  • Separating that from this particular decision,

  • there are issues in which the law too often feels

  • as if it is being applied in discriminatory fashion.

  • I don't think that's the norm.

  • I don't think that's true for the majority of communities

  • or the vast majority of law enforcement officials.

  • But these are real issues.

  • And we have to lift them up and not deny them

  • or try to tamp them down.

  • What we need to do is to understand them

  • and figure out how do we make more progress.

  • And that can be done.

  • That won't be done by throwing bottles.

  • That won't be done by smashing car windows.

  • That won't be done by using this as an excuse

  • to vandalize property.

  • And it certainly won't be done by hurting anybody.

  • So, to those in Ferguson, there are ways of channeling your

  • concerns constructively and there are ways of channeling

  • your concerns destructively.

  • Michael Brown's parents understand what it means

  • to be constructive.

  • The vast majority of peaceful protesters,

  • they understand it as well.

  • Those of you who are watching tonight understand that there's

  • never an excuse for violence, particularly when there

  • are a lot of people in goodwill out there who

  • are willing to work on these issues.

  • On the other hand, those who are only interested in focusing

  • on the violence and just want the problem to go away need

  • to recognize that we do have work to do here,

  • and we shouldn't try to paper it over.

  • Whenever we do that, the anger may momentarily subside,

  • but over time, it builds up and America isn't everything

  • that it could be.

  • And I am confident that if we focus our attention on the

  • problem and we look at what has happened in communities around

  • the country effectively, then we can make progress not just

  • in Ferguson, but in a lot of other cities

  • and communities around the country.

  • Okay?

  • The Press: Mr. President, will you go to Ferguson

  • when things settle down there?

  • The President: Well, let's take a look

  • and see how things are going.

  • Eric Holder has been there.

  • We've had a whole team from the Justice Department there,

  • and I think that they have done some very good work.

  • As I said, the vast majority of the community has been working

  • very hard to try to make sure that this becomes

  • an opportunity for us to seize the moment and turn

  • this into a positive situation.

  • But I think that we have to make sure that we focus at least

  • as much attention on all those positive activities that are

  • taking place as we do on a handful of folks who

  • end up using this as an excuse to misbehave

  • or to break the law or to engage in violence.

  • I think that it's going to be very important -- and I think

  • the media is going to have a responsibility as well --

  • to make sure that we focus on Michael Brown's parents,

  • and the clergy, and the community leaders,

  • and the civil rights leaders, and the activists,

  • and law enforcement officials who have been working

  • very hard to try to find better solutions --

  • long-term solutions, to this issue.

  • There is inevitably going to be some negative reaction,

  • and it will make for good TV.

  • But what we want to do is to make sure that we're also

  • focusing on those who can offer the kind of real progress that

  • we know is possible, that the vast majority of people

  • in Ferguson, the St. Louis region, in Missouri,

  • and around the country are looking for.

  • And I want to be partners with those folks.

  • And we need to lift up that kind of constructive dialogue

  • that's taking place.

  • All right.

The President: Good evening everybody.

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President Obama Issues a Statement on the Ferguson Grand Jury Decision

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    Halu Hsieh posted on 2014/12/30
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