Transcript for President Obama Condemns Violence in Baltimore
This is an ABC news special. Now reported George Stephanopoulos. And we are coming and they are now because President Obama has just addressed the writing that erupted in Baltimore after the funeral yesterday of Freddie grad. Young African American men who died in police custody. So far today mostly calm. The two debt heavy police presence right there are some arrests as well. But last night chaos and gangs of looters taunting police setting more than a 150 fires in seizing the streets. There have been at least 200 arrests in fifteen police officers injured. The governor has declared a state of mercy and called the National Guard to assist the Baltimore police for the first time since 1968. Schools are closed today for the second night in Iraq the Baltimore Orioles game at Camden yards will be postponed. Speaking in the Rose Garden with a Japanese prime minister by his side the president addressed the crisis. What respect to Baltimore. Let me make couple points first share thoughts continue to be with the family of freight rate understandably they want to answers. And and DOJ has. Opened an investigation it is working with local law enforcement to find out exactly what happened I think there should be grateful transparency and accountability. Second. My thoughts are with the police officers were injured. In last night's disturbances. It underscores. That that's a tough job. And we have to keep that in mind and my hope is that they can. Heal and get back to work as soon as possible. Or number three. There's no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday. It is counterproductive. When individuals get crow bars and start prying open forresters. Lose. They're not. Protesters. They're not making a statement. They're stealing. When they burned out a building there committing arson. And they're destroying an undermining. Businesses. And opportunities in their own communities. That. Rob. Jobs and opportunity from. People a matter. So. It is entirely appropriate. The mayor of Baltimore who I spoke to yesterday and the governor. Who I spoke to yesterday. At work to stop. Kind of senseless. Violence and destruction. As not a protest. That is not a statement. Its people a handful of people taken advantage. Of the situation for their own purposes and they need be treated as criminals. Point number four. The violence that happened yesterday distracted from the fact that you would seem. Multiple days. Peaceful protests. That. Were. Focused on entirely legitimate concerns. Of these communities in Baltimore. Led by clergy and community leaders and they were constructive and they were thoughtful. And frankly don't give them much attention. And one burning buildings. Will be loops on television over and over and over again and the thousands of demonstrators who did it the right word. I think have been lost. In the discussion. The overwhelming. Majority. The community in Baltimore. Good handle this appropriately expressing real concern and outrage. Over the possibility that our laws were not applied evenly in the case of mr. Gregg and accountability needs. Exists. I think we have to give them credit my understanding is you got some the same organizers now going back of these committees try to clean up in the aftermath. Handful of protesters a handful of criminals. And thugs who who tore the place. What day we're doing what. Those community leaders and clergy and others were on. That is a statement. That's the kind of organizing the needs to take place if we're gonna tackle this problem and they deserve credit for and we should be lifting them up. Or number. Five and I've got six. Because this is important. Since Ferguson and the task force we put together. We have seen. Too many instances. What appears to be. Police officers. Interacting with. Individuals. Primarily African American. Often poor. In ways that raise troubling questions. And comes up it seems like. Once a week now. Once every couple weeks. And saw it I think it's pretty understandable why the leaders of civil rights organizations. But more importantly moms and dads. Across the country might start. Saying there's there's there's a crisis. What I'd say is. There's been a slow rolling prices have been going on for a long time. This is not new. And which and pretend that it's now. The good uses that perhaps there's some new found awareness because. Social media and video cameras and so forth that. There are our problems and challenges when it comes to. How policing and our laws are applied in certain communities and we have to pay attention to and respond. What's also good news is the task force that was made up of law enforcement and community activists that we brought together in the White House have come up with a very constructive. Concrete proposals. That if adopted by local communities. And by states and by counties. By law enforcement generally. Would make a difference when solve every problem but would make it concrete difference in rebuilding trust and making sure that the overwhelming majority of effective honest. And fair. Law enforcement officers that they're able do their job better because it will weed out or. Retrain or put a stop to those handful. Who. Maybe. I'm not doing what they're supposed to be don't. Now the challenge for us is the federal government is is that we don't run these police forces. I can't federal lies every police force in the country and forced them to retrain. But what I can do is to start working whip them. Collaborative way. So that bacon. Begin this process of change. Themselves. And we. Coming out of the task force that we put together we're now working with local communities. Department of Justice has just announced a grant program for. Those. Jurisdictions that want to purchase body cares. We are going to be issuing grants for those. Jurisdictions that are prepared to start trying to implement some new training and data collection and other things they can make a difference. And we're gonna keep on working with those local jurisdictions. So that today they can begin to make the changes. That are necessary. I think it's going to be important for. Organizations like the fraternal order of police and other police unions and organizations. To acknowledge that. This is not good for police. We have to own up to the fact that occasionally they're going to be problems. Just as there are in every other. Occupation. There there are some bad politicians. Or crop there are. Spokesman business community or on Wall Street you don't do the right thing well there's some police are are doing the right back. And rather than close ranks. You know what we've seen as a number of thoughtful police chiefs and commissioners and others recognize. Get their arms around this thing. Worked together with the community's soul from and were committed to facilitating. That process so. Heads. Are cops. Agency. That helps with community policing there RD out Baltimore. Our. Had. Assistant. Attorney general for civil rights division is started out in Baltimore but we're going to be working systematically what every city in jurisdiction. Around the country try to. Help them implement some solutions that we know work. I'll make my final point I'm sorry mister prime minister but this was pretty important issue force. We can't just leave this to the police. I think there police departments that have to do some soul searching. I think there's some communities that to do some soul searching but I think we as a country. Have to do some souls are. This is not new. It's been going on for decades. And without making any excuses for criminal activities that take place masking is what we also know is that. If you have impoverished communities. That have been stripped away of opportune. Where. Children are born in abject poverty. They've got. Parents often because of substance abuse problems or incarceration or lack of education themselves can't. Do right by their kids. If it's more likely to have those kids end up in jail or dead and that they go to college. In communities where there are no fathers. Who. Can provide guidance. To young man. New news that where. There's no investment. And manufacturing has been stripped away. And drugs have flooded the community and the drug it. Industry ends up being the primary importer for all lot of folks. In those environments. If we think there were just gonna send. The police to do the dirty work of containing the problems that arise there without. As a nation and as a society saying what can we do to. Change those communities. To help lift up those communities and and give those kids opportunity. And we're not gonna solve this problem and we'll go through the same cycles of periodic. Conflicts between employees and communities. And the occasional. Riots in the streets. And everybody will. Feign concern until it goes away and then we go about our business as usual. If we are serious about solving this problem and we're gonna not only have to. Help the police. Won't have to think about what can we do the rest of us. To make sure that. We're providing early education to these kids make sure that were reforming our criminal justice system so it's not just a pipeline from schools to prisons. Or we're not rendering. Men in these communities. Unemployable because. Of a felony record for a nonviolent drug reference. There were making investments so that they can get the training they need to find jobs. That's part. That requires more than just the occasional. News reporter task force. And there's a bunch of my agenda there would make a difference right now. In that I'm under no illusion that out of this congress we're gonna get massive investments. In urban communities. And so wolf try to find areas where we can make it turns around school reform around job training and around. Some investments in and infrastructure in these communities. A trying to attract new businesses are. But we really want to solve the problem if our society really want to solve problems. We could is just a would require everybody. Saying this is important this is significant. And that we don't just pay attention to these communities when. A CBS Mars. And we don't just pay attention when. A young man gets shot. Or. Has a spine snapped. We're paying attention all the time because we consider those kids our kids and we think they're important. And they shouldn't be living in poverty and violence. That's how I feel. I think there are a lot of good meaning people around the country feel that way but. Back kind of political mobilization. I think we haven't seen in quite some time. And what I've tried to do is to promote those. Ideas that would make a difference. I think we all understand it baltics tough because it's easier to ignore those problems. Where to treat them just as the law and order issues closed socialist. I was a really long answer but I felt pretty strongly about it. President Obama listen extensive and emotional comments in response to violence in Baltimore last night speaking. At a press conference in the Rose Garden with the prime minister of Japan making several points saying there's no excuse for the violence we saw last night but the president also saying. That many in many parts of the country police have not been doing the right thing we've seen too much of that. As well and then he called on all Americans do some soul searching as well about what he called a slow rolling crisis in African American communities community steeped. In poverty and violence where there's often no hope. For the young people saying this is something we all have to pay attention to all of the time. A wanted to Jim apple who's in Baltimore outside City Hall we also. Heard earlier from the governor of Maryland Larry Hogan gym who said we're not gonna have a repeat of last night it's not going to happen tonight. And it is as we said mostly calm there in Baltimore right now but some tension as well. There is attention already George remember that most of the activity the unrest we've seen recently have happened in the afternoon. And though even though there are National Guard troops out about 200 so far 500 so fired up to 2000 later including some behind me here in front of City Hall. That is not mean that that this is all over and in fact the of their they're now girding for the worse in the afternoon and police are out in force already. We want is grace and you'll be on the scene just wanna come to commissioner Ray Kelly former commissioner of the new York city police your reaction to president. The quality of prisons so common for appropriate he says it is the concern was with the family. He talked about the police officers six of them and answers the injured obviously criticized. Did the writers and he also praised the bit peaceful demonstrators and of course he recognized the fact that. We've seen solemn all very concerning activity on the part of a plea certainly be outrages of the shooting. Here's how current alignment equipment and a find out what happened to pretty great and talk about poverty so. I think his remarks were appropriate in comprehensive. And we'll be getting the report on what happened for degree from Friday in Baltimore right now a state of mercy in Baltimore as well the National Guard. On the scene we're gonna have much more tonight on world news David Muir is on the scene in Baltimore as well you can get all the latest news any time an abcnews.com. Have a good day. This has been a special room. For me peace.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.