Lesley McSpadden, mother of slain teen Michael Brown, Jr. being escorted away from the Ferguson police station after grand jury verdict is announced. (Getty Images, November 24, 2014)
Speaking after a grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old unarmed Michael Brown, Jr., President Barack Obama urged Ferguson protesters not to use the decision as an “excuse” for violence and looting.
Focusing heavily on the need to respect law enforcement and how difficult their jobs are, Obama quoted Michael Brown, Sr.’s statement where he urged peace:
“…hurting others or destroying property is not the answer. No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain. I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone. We live here together, this is our home. We’re stronger united. Continue to lift your voices with us and let’s work together to heal and to create lasting change for all people regardless of race.”
Obama then went on to say, “We are a nation built on the rule of law so we have to accept this decision was the grand jury’s to make. I join Michael’s parents in asking anyone who protests this decision to do so peacefully,” he added. “Michael Brown’s parents have lost more than anyone. We should honor their decision.”
He said that law enforcement should “show care and restraint” in dealing with protesters. “They need to work with the community, not against the community” said Obama. But he warned that the killing of Michael Brown, Jr. and the subsequent decision not to hold his killer accountable is “no excuse” for reciprocal violence.