Obama Calls For Peace In Ferguson, Orders FBI Investigation Of Shooting

President Obama has ordered the FBI to investigate the police shooting death of Michael Brown. He calls for calm in Ferguson, Missouri where there have been nightly protests since the incident. He calls for police to not use excessive force and to not arrest journalists.

Here is a transcript of his statement to the press Thursday afternoon in Edgartown, Massachusetts:

I want to address something that’s been in the news over the last couple of days and that’s the situation in Ferguson, Missouri. I know that many Americans have been deeply disturbed by the images we’ve seen in the heartland of our country, as police have clashed with people protesting. Today, I’d like us all to take a step back and think about how we’re going to be moving forward.

This morning, I received a thorough update on the situation from Attorney General Eric Holder, who has been following it and been in communication with his team. I’ve already tasked the Department of Justice and the FBI to independently investigate the death of Michael Brown, along with local officials on the ground.

The Department of Justice is also consulting with local authorities about ways that they can maintain public safety without restricting the right of peaceful protest and while avoiding unnecessary escalation. I made clear to the Attorney General that we should do what is necessary to help determine exactly what happened, and to see that justice is done.

I also just spoke with Governor Jay Nixon of Missouri. I expressed my concern over the violent turn that events have taken on the ground, and underscored that now is the time for all of us to reflect on what’s happened, and to find a way to come together going forward. He is going to be traveling to Ferguson. He is a good man and a fine governor, and I’m confident that, working together, he is going to be able to communicate his desire to make sure that justice is done and his desire to make sure that public safety is maintained in an appropriate way.

Of course, it’s important to remember how this started. We lost a young man, Michael Brown, in heartbreaking and tragic circumstances. He was 18 years old. His family will never hold Michael in their arms again. And when something like this happens, the local authorities –- including the police -– have a responsibility to be open and transparent about how they are investigating that death, and how they are protecting the people in their communities.

There is never an excuse for violence against police, or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting. There’s also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests, or to throw protestors in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights. And here, in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and report to the American people on what they see on the ground. Put simply, we all need to hold ourselves to a high standard, particularly those of us in positions of authority.

I know that emotions are raw right now in Ferguson and there are certainly passionate differences about what has happened. There are going to be different accounts of how this tragedy occurred. There are going to be differences in terms of what needs to happen going forward. That’s part of our democracy. But let’s remember that we’re all part of one American family. We are united in common values, and that includes belief in equality under the law; a basic respect for public order and the right to peaceful public protest; a reverence for the dignity of every single man, woman and child among us; and the need for accountability when it comes to our government.

So now is the time for healing. Now is the time for peace and calm on the streets of Ferguson. Now is the time for an open and transparent process to see that justice is done. And I’ve asked that the Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney on the scene continue to work with local officials to move that process forward. They will be reporting to me in the coming days about what’s being done to make sure that happens.

Thanks very much, everybody.

Michael McIntee

Michael McIntee is a former network TV news executive with more than 30 years of broadcasting experience. He began his broadcasting career at the University of Minnesota's student radio station. He is an expert producer, writer, video editor who has a fondness for new technology but denies that he is a geek. More about Michael McIntee »

14 thoughts on “Obama Calls For Peace In Ferguson, Orders FBI Investigation Of Shooting

  1. As a 45 year old white male and 25 year Missouri resident, I have seen far too much ignorance in this state. I am not surprised in the least to be witnessing these events. The culture here is far more extreme than people are seeing here. Lush Limbaugh was born and raised here for example. A long standing quote going back over 150 years is the phrase “The only thing that comes out of Missouri are outlaws and cattle”. The mentality here is a cross between the north and south, with extremes on both sides. As a consequence, this state has been run to the extremes. The governor himself defines this culture. Jay Nixon our governor is the former prosecuting attorney here. And to say that he is fair minded and compassionate is a joke. Anyone can get a felony here and get put on a sex registry conviction just for simply taking a piss in public. There are more prisons here than in any other state. The federal incarceration units here contain the most dangerous and wanted in the world. Jay Nixon asked the White House for $10 billion for more prisons. The white house said “Why don’t we just put a fence around Missouri.” ..This is “right to carry” state, and anyone who has an ego seems to be packing. This state has more military bases, prisons, weapons manufacturers, motorcycle and car factories than any other state per capita. As a result, injustice is a way of life here, and egos are prevalent. Nobody here cares, just as long as nothing bad happens to them, I’ve traveled all around the country and this has to be the worst state in the union. If you travel through here watch out – It’s already happened to me, and I’m a professional of 20 years as an engineer. Now I have a felony here in this state. I can’t wait to be able leave this state: one that should be called “Misery” not Missouri. … Thanks for listening, the problem is the culture and the governor here btw. I’m just sorry to see his tragedy had to compel me to say something.

  2. What I bring from the events of the last few days is that the Police have proven beyond any doubt that they can handle any situation without lethal weapons.
    They have been using only less than lethal alternatives that they are already armed with and not killed anyone else.
    there is no need for a police force to have the capability to kill.
    We should have a non lethal police force.

  3. What I bring from the events of the last few days is that the Police have proven beyond any doubt that they can handle any situation without lethal weapons.
    They have been using only less than lethal alternatives that they are already armed with and not killed anyone else.
    there is no need for a police force to have the capability to kill.
    We should have a non lethal police force.

  4. What do you suppose would have happened had all the veterans looted and rioted because our vets were allowed to die just so someone could get a bonus? Is the FBI investigating those deaths?

  5. Chad, while your suggestion is optimistically ideal, many of us live in parts of the United States where shootings and murders are a daily reminder of gang violence. To disarm our law enforcement officers, without first coming up with a reasonable plan for removing automatic assault weapons from gang members and criminals is asking someone to sign up to be employed in a job position that has a high risk for death.
    Often times, the only thing that keeps a single police officer from being able to control a group of 3-4 people before help can arrive, is that the people being detained know that that officer has the ability to use deadly force in extreme situations.
    If we could disarm the criminal elements of our country sufficiently to allow Police to be weapons-free, we would need also need harsher laws. So, when those same 3-4 people decided that they would rather beat the same law enforcement officer to the ground and kick/punch him into unconsciousness rather than be arrested, the rest of us can sleep at night knowing that the penalty for assaulting a Police officer was now a mandatory 25 year prison sentence.

  6. hopefully we would all be in the streets with them. It is safe to live the life of a coward.

  7. I’m not saying disarm police. I’m saying do not allow them lethal weapons.
    You don’t need to kill someone to stop a crime in progress, nor investigate a crime or make an arrest.
    The Police are not suppose to kill suspects. That is actually a violation of due process. A jury decides a person’s punishment, not the Police.
    They have ample less than lethal alternatives that they already employ.
    Just because criminals have guns does not mean cops need to kill those criminals to stop them. Taze them, hit them with rubber bullets, bean bag rounds, stun grenades, tear gas or a fricking net for christ sake.
    Police should arrest criminals, not kill them.

  8. So chaddy boy when are we going to see and your other non-violence is the answer friends out on the streets stopping crime?

  9. Your story seems really bleak. With so many good people in Missouri who who disagree with your assessment, I finally got to the part that told the REAL story: “I have a felony here in this state. I can’t wait to be able leave this state…” If you even live in Missouri (it’s quite possible you are an internet troll) you SHOULD leave, immediately.

  10. I never mentioned non-violent police. I said that Police don’t have to have the ability to kill in order to do their jobs effectively.
    A lethal firearm is not a “defensive weapon” it’s a method of killing at a distance.
    Police some times have to be violent to subdue a suspect, but I can count on one hand in the last 30 years where the police had no alternative but to kill a suspect and those all involved hostages.

    Since you seem to disagree with me on taking lethal weapons away from Police, then please reach in to your obviously creative imagination and describe a scenario where a Police officer will need to kill a suspect rather than subdue them with less than lethal weapons.

  11. In any situation where the person is armed, determined, does not value their own life enough to surrender, and has left a swath of dead bodies in a shooting spree. Think “Sandy Lake Elementary School” here.
    Any dangerous profession is all about mitigating risk…from aviation to law enforcement. Removing the option of deadly force, places innocent people (our law enforcement officers) in harms way. Until such a time, we come up with non-lethal weapons that are just as effective and mitigate the same risk as a 9mm pistol, deadly force will always be option to law enforcement.

  12. No, cops need to have a lethal option, always. Police should like any other citizen use the necessary force to end the threat. And that force is sometimes taken to a needed place of death.

  13. Please describe a situation where the only option is to kill the suspect rather than subdue them with less than lethal alternatives?