Washington (CNN)President Barack Obama was personally shocked after viewing cell-phone video showing an unarmed black man being shot dead by a police officer in South Carolina, one of his top advisers said on Thursday.
President 'devastated' after viewing shooting video
1 of 10
2 of 10
3 of 10
4 of 10
5 of 10
6 of 10
7 of 10
8 of 10
9 of 10
10 of 10
As his top aides continue to closely monitor unrest prompted by another incident of alleged police brutality, this time in Baltimore, Obama remains deeply concerned about how local law enforcement forces treat minorities.
"He was devastated. I don't know that he's ever seen someone just gunned down like that before, who was running away," Valerie Jarrett, Obama's senior adviser, said of the president's reaction to the South Carolina video.
"It has a deeply personal impact on everyone who's seen that video," she said. "And the issue becomes, what are we doing to do about that?"
As violence appears to subside in Baltimore, the White House -- up to the president himself -- continues to closely monitor events on the ground, Jarrett said. But they're also looking for ways to address at least one cause of the anger, what they identify as a gap in opportunities for low-income, inner-city youth.
Jarrett said a now-iconic image from the protests -- that of an anguished mother slapping her son and pulling him from a protest -- resonated because it portrayed a raw fear parents have when raising kids where few opportunities abound.
"What she said I thought was rather poignant, which is that she's doing everything she can do to keep her son out of harm's way," she said. "She was extraordinarily emotional, annoyed with him, and probably more than anything else she was scared."
"There are a lot of moms around the country who just want to do right by their children," Jarrett said.
Obama condemned the fiery protests which erupted earlier this week during a press conference on Tuesday, calling those responsible for burning buildings and cars "criminals and thugs."
Obama is "watching this very carefully to ensure that we do have peace," Jarrett told CNN.
"I think he has a very good sense of what's going on," she continued. "He's really concerned and he wants to make sure that we are doing everything we can."
That includes convening a conference call Thursday afternoon with civil rights and faith leaders to ensure that protests remain peaceful in Baltimore and other U.S. cities where demonstrations have broken out following the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody.
The call follows White House outreach efforts to mayors nationwide ensuring they're utilizing federal resources in ways that discourage escalation.
"We talked about the resources that the justice department has available to help them -- the technical assistance to ensure that we're diffusing situations, not encouraging them to spiral out of control," Jarrett said.