Obama Calls for 'Peace and Calm' in Ferguson

The president chastised Ferguson police for using excessive force against protesters and arresting journalists, and he said federal officials would work with local authorities to restore calm.

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President Obama on Thursday called for "peace and calm" on the streets of Ferguson, Mo., where four days of violent clashes between police and protesters have followed the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

"Now's the time for healing," Obama said in a televised statement from Martha's Vineyard, where he is vacationing. "Now's the time for peace and calm on the streets of Ferguson."

The president said he was briefed on the situation in Ferguson by Attorney General Eric Holder and that he had instructed federal law enforcement officials to help authorities in Missouri to restore order. Obama also spoke to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who said shortly before the president spoke that he planned to announce "operational changes" in Ferguson.

Obama said that while there is "never an excuse for violence" against the police, "there is also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests."

"Local authorities," he said, "have a responsibility to be open and transparent" about their investigation of Brown's death.

The president indirectly criticized the Ferguson police for arresting two journalists at a McDonalds on Wednesday night.

"I know that emotions are raw right now in Ferguson," Obama said.

"Let's remember that we are all one American family," he added.

Earlier this week, the president addressed the shooting of Michael Brown in a heartfelt statement:

The death of Michael Brown is heartbreaking, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family and his community at this very difficult time. As Attorney General Holder has indicated, the Department of Justice is investigating the situation along with local officials, and they will continue to direct resources to the case as needed. I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions, but as details unfold, I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country, to remember this young man through reflection and understanding. We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds. Along with our prayers, that’s what Michael and his family, and our broader American community, deserve.

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