Baltimore Riots: Obama Says 'No Excuse' for 'Senseless' Violence

PHOTO: President Barack Obama speaks in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, April 28, 2015.PlayABC News
WATCH Baltimore State of Emergency; Officials Vow No Repeat of Rioting

President Obama condemned the violence in Baltimore this afternoon, saying there is "no excuse" for the violence, looting and arson that followed the funeral held for Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old African American who died after suffering a spine injury in police custody earlier this month.

"They're not protesting, they're not making a statement, they're stealing," Obama said in a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

"They're destroying and undermining businesses and opportunities in their own communities that rob jobs and opportunity from people in that area," he added.

The public comments are Obama's first since violence began in Baltimore on Monday afternoon and continued overnight -- following nearly 200 arrests and roughly 150 fires, according to the Baltimore mayor’s office.

Fifteen police officers have been injured since Monday, with six hospitalized. It is not clear how many rioters have been injured.

The president noted that recent incidents of the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers around the country "raise troubling questions."

He said police departments and local communities have to do some "soul searching."

"We as a country have to do some soul searching," Obama added. "This is not new. It's been going on for decades."

Some 500 National Guardsmen were deployed to the city after Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency. The violence began after a week of peaceful protests in Baltimore after Gray’s death.

The Department of Justice is investigating whether Baltimore police officers committed a “prosecutable civil rights violation” against Gray.

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