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President Barack Obama called for protests to be peaceful during a press conference held in the hour following the announcement that a Ferguson police officer would not be indicted in the shooting death of Michael Brown.
“First and foremost, we are a nation built on the rule of law, and so we need to accept that this decision was the Grand Jury’s to make. There are Americans who agree with it, and there are Americans who are deeply disappointed,” Obama said.
A Grand Jury decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Brown, an unarmed teenager shot to death in August.
“We need to recognize that the situation in Ferguson speaks to broader challenges that we still face as a nation. The fact is in too many parts in this country, a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and people of color,” Obama said, adding that he had instructed Attorney General Eric Holder to help address this divide.
“This is not just an issue for Ferguson. This is an issue for America. We have made enormous progress in race relations over the course of the past several decades,” Obama said. “I have witnessed that in my own life, and to deny that progress, I think, is to deny America’s capacity for change. But what is also true is there are still problems and communities of color aren’t just making these problems up. Separating that from this particular decision, there are issues in which the law too often feels like it’s being applied in a discriminatory fashion.”
He went on to say he didn’t believe that was the norm, but acknowledged it was a real problem.
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