In the wake of the grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown, President Barack Obama spoke to the nation.
In the president’s statement on Monday night, the wishes of Michael Brown’s parents were echoed while the streets of Ferguson and the surrounding areas were filled with angry people.
“I join Michael's parents in asking anyone who protests this decision to do so peacefully," Obama said in his address from the White House. "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.'"
Obama also made clear that although some may not agree with the decision made by the grand jury, people need to accept it for what it is.
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“We are a nation built on the rule of law, so we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury's to make,” said Obama. “There are Americans who agree with it, and there are Americans who are deeply upset, even angry. It's an understandable reaction.”
President Obama again reiterated that violence and destruction would not bring about change.
“That won't be done by throwing bottles,” said Obama. “That won't be done by smashing car windows. That won't be done by using this as an excuse to vandalize property. It certainly won't be done by hurting anybody."
The president noted that although progress has been made, there are still very real issues that people across the nation are facing.
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“What is also true is that there are still problems, and communities of color aren't just making these problems up,” the president said, while acknowledging the “enormous progress” the country has made in race relations. “I have witnessed that in my own life. To deny that progress, I think, is to deny America's capacity for change.”
Despite the president’s public plea for peace, rioting continues in Ferguson and the surrounding areas. Many businesses have been broken into and buildings have been set on fire while riot officers have responded with what some reports say is the use of tear gas and/or smoke bombs. Protests have also sprung up in cities across the country, although none appear to be nearly as destructive and violent as those taking place in Ferguson.