With Ferguson, Missouri, bracing for a second night of violence and vandalism in the wake of the grand jury decision, President Obama warned protesters that “nothing of significance, nothing of benefit results from destructive acts.”
“I’ve never seen a civil rights law or a health care bill or an immigration bill result because a car got burned,” Obama said at an afternoon event in Chicago today originally scheduled to promote his recent immigration action. "It happened because people vote. It happened because people mobilized. It happened because people organized.”
The president, who was briefed earlier today on the situation in Ferguson by Attorney General Eric Holder, said a grand jury decision not to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown should be respected. But he said frustration over real or perceived police injustice was legitimate and needs to be addressed.
“I have no sympathy at all for destroying your own communities. But for the overwhelming majority of people who just feel frustrated and pain, because they get a sense that maybe some communities aren't treated fairly or some individuals aren't seen as worthy as others, I understand that,” Obama said. “And I want to work with you, and I want to move forward with you. Your president will be right there with you."
Obama said a series of regional meetings between federal, state and local law enforcement officials and community and faith leaders would begin next week. They will be focused on “building trust” between communities and policy, and developing strategies to “make sure that law enforcement is fair.”
Senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett has taken a leading role in the initiative, according to the White House, keeping in regular contact with Missouri state officials and civil rights leaders.
The president is “considering” a trip to Ferguson once the situation there stabilizes, officials said.