Shortly after the decision went public that Officer Darren Wilson would not be facing criminal charges for the murder of teenager Michael Brown, President Obama made some brief remarks at the White House.
“First and foremost, we are a nation built on the rule of law,” he said. “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."
“But I join Michael’s parents by asking anyone who protests this decision does so peacefully,” he continued. “Michael Brown’s parents have lost more than anyone. We should be honoring their wishes.”
He also urged law enforcement officials to exercise “care and restraint” in dealing with any protests that might arise in the coming days, and to recognize that the vast majority of protestors are not trying to stoke racial tensions or cause riots.
He also spoke briefly about the implications of the ruling.
“Finally, we need to recognize that the situation in Ferguson speaks to broader challenges that we still face as a nation,” he said. “The fact is that 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 than poor communities with higher crimes rates."
“We need to recognize that this is not just an issue for for Ferguson, this is an issue for America,” he added. “We have made enormous progress in race relations over the course of the last several decades. I have 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.”
At which people he spoke directly to the residents of Ferguson.
“To those in Ferguson, there are ways of channelling your concerns constructively, and there are ways of channelling your concerns destructively," he said. “Michael Brown’s parents understand what it means to be constructive.”
“The vast majority of peaceful protestors understand it as well,” he added.