Obama: "There’s No Excuse for the Kind of Violence We Saw Yesterday"
At a press conference this afternoon, President Obama addressed the protests and riots in Baltimore, noting both the “a slow rolling crisis” of black men being killed by police officers and the “criminal” behavior of looters last night.
“There’s no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday,” Obama said. “It is counterproductive. When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they’re not protesting, they’re not making a statement, they’re stealing.”
He also addressed the on-going crisis of police brutality in black communities.
“We have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals, primarily African-American, often poor, in ways that raise troubling questions. It comes up, it seems like, once a week now,” he said. He went on:
This is not new. This has been going on for decades. And without making any excuses for criminal activities that take place in these communities, we also know if you have impoverished communities that have been stripped away of opportunity, where children are born into abject poverty, they’ve got parents, often because of substance abuse problems or incarceration or lack of education, and themselves can’t do right by their kids, if it’s more likely that those kids end up in jail or dead than that they go to college. And communities where there are no fathers who can provide guidance to young men, communities where there’s no investment, and manufacturing’s been stripped away, and drugs have flooded the community and the drug industry ends up being the primary employer for a lot of folks. In those environments, if we think that we’re just going to send the police to do the dirty work of containing the problems that arise there without, as a nation, and as a society saying what can we do to change those communities to help lift up those communities and give those kids opportunity, then we’re not going to solve this problem. And we’ll go through this same cycles of periodic conflicts between the police and communities, and the occasional riots in the streets and everybody will feign concern until it goes away and we just go about our business as usual.