A Weary President Obama Addresses Ferguson and Iraq

Today at 4 p.m., President Barack Obama will address the nation about the ongoing situation in Ferguson, Missouri and Iraq. 

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Monday at 4 p.m., President Barack Obama addressed the nation about the ongoing situation in Ferguson, Missouri as well as on the front lines in the fight against ISIL.

Obama first announced that he is building a humanitarian coalition to address the crisis in Iraq, noting that many Iraqis were displaced by ISIL violence. The U.S. will work with European nations on this coalition.

"The perception was that Baghdad was not being inclusive," said Obama in the question portion of his speech.

Additionally, Obama hopes that the new government in place will be able to unite the nation against ISIL. "ISIL poses a threat to all Iraqis," the President said, "They actively recruit foreign fighters to push their hateful ideology."

In regards to Ferguson, Obama noted that he spoke with both Nixon and Holder. He also noted the Department of Justice is investigating. "The Attorney General himself will meet with personal and the DOJ...He will also be meeting with other members of the community whose support is critical to bringing peace and calm to the community." Experts from the DOJ are also arriving.

"It's clear the vast majority of people are peacefully protesting. A small minority of people are not. I understand the passions and anger of the small minority who are not ... giving into that anger by looting, carrying guns, fighting police undermines, rather than advances, justices," said Obama, "The potential of a young man and the sorrows of parents, the frustrations of a community. The ideals we hold as one united American family. A gulf of mistrust exists between locals and law enforcement."

Obama also emphasized that a distinction must be kept between military and law enforcement, a major point of contention as many criticized Ferguson officers for their use of riot gear and tear gas. He also explained where the military grade equipment came from, citing preparedness regulations were changed for police departments after 9/11. "It is probably useful for us to review how the funding has gone, how local law enforcement has used grant dollars, to make sure what they're purchasing is stuff they actually need," he said, "There is a big difference between our military and our law enforcement. There will be bipartisan interest in re-examining those programs."

Obama clarified that the National Guard would be under the control of the state, and their presence was requested by the state, rather than the national government.

Ann Compton, who is retiring this year, was praised by Obama before she asked the last question of the speech about Ferguson and the 'My Brother's Keeper' approach. "I have to be very careful about not prejudging these events until the investigation is conducted I can't put my thumb on the scale one way or another," said Obama, "You have young men of color in black communities more likely to end up in the criminal justice system than in college. Part of my job is to get at those root causes. That's a big project. It's one that we have been trying to carry out now for a couple of centuries. We have made extraordinary progress but not enough progress."

Obama suggested looking to the past for the future of these young men, "In the course of investigating where we can make a difference, there are patterns that start early," noting that drop out rates are higher amongst Hispanic and African American men. "There are young black men that commit crime. We can argue why that happened, the community they are born into, the lack of opportunity, the school system. But if they commit a crime, they must be prosecuted...Part of the ongoing challenge of perfecting our union has involved dealing with communities that feel left behind."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.