President Obama has a message for Ferguson.
For those who are peaceful and constructive, he’s “right there with you.” But the president has “no sympathy at all” for people burning cars and looting stores.
The president made these remarks in Chicago Tuesday evening, at the beginning of a speech to tout his new executive action that will spare millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation
Ferguson was rocked by violence again Monday night after a grand jury declined to indict the white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager there in August.
“The frustrations that we’ve seen are not just about a particular incident. They have deep roots in many communities of color, who have sense our laws are not always being enforced uniformly or fairly.” Obama said, echoing comments he made on Monday night from the White House. That frustration is “not just made up. It’s rooted in realities that have existed in this country for a long time.”
But the president said there are constructive and destructive ways to handle that frustration.
Speaking to peaceful protesters, the president said, “I want all those folks to know that their president is going to work with them… Your president will be right there with you.”
To those looting and burning, the president said there is “no excuse” for people committing “criminal acts.” “People should be prosecuted,” he added. He said progress has never been made on civil rights or anything else because of violence and destruction.
The president also announced that Attorney General Eric Holder will hold regional meetings to investigate ways to build trust between law enforcement and minority communities, starting next week.
During the main part of his speech, Obama touted how his new immigration policy will benefit immigrants and all Americans. But not long after he began, several hecklers stood to shout at the president – a familiar interruption in recent months.
“Although I understand why you might yell at me a month ago,” he said to the protesters. “It doesn’t make much sense to yell at me right now.” The crowd backed up him and drowned out the hecklers.
The president said he had been respectful of the protesters and asked them to offer him the same respect, engaging in a brief debate with them. He told they would not be removed, and instead asked that they listen to what he had to say. They mostly stayed quiet for the duration.