President Barack Obama made his first public statement on the recent attack on police officers in Ferguson, Missouri, Thursday night, saying that despite the issues in the town, there was “no excuse for criminal acts.”
“I think that what had been happening in Ferguson was oppressive and objectionable and was worthy of protest, but there was no excuse for criminal acts,” Obama said, in a sober moment during a largely light-hearted appearance on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
Two police officers were shot when peaceful protests in Ferguson turned violent Wednesday night. They were treated and released from the hospital the next morning, and Ferguson law enforcement continues to look for suspects. Protests have continued in the city following the release last week of a Justice Department report revealing stunning abuses by the Ferguson police and city officials against minority residents there.
Obama said “whoever fired those shots shouldn’t detract from the issue. They’re criminals, they need to be arrested.” He stressed that those who “disregard and disrespect” police are not the majority of protesters, and need to be “marginalized.”
But he added that the next step needs to involve law enforcement and those protesting police abuses, need to work together to find a solution to the problems facing the nation.
“What we need to do is make sure that like-minded, good-spirited people on both sides, law-enforcement who have a terrifically tough job, and people who understand they don’t want to be stopped and harassed because of their race, that we’re able to work together to try and come up with some good answers,” he said.
Much of the rest of the interview was marked by Kimmel’s — and Obama’s — signature humor. The president read mean tweets sent about him, a longstanding Kimmel segment that usually features celebrities.
One tweet asked: “Is there any way we could fly Obama to some golf course halfway around the world and just leave him there?”
The prolific golfer replied: “I think that’s a great idea.”
And in a nod to those who believe he wasn’t born in the U.S., Obama joked about not having driven a car for some time since living in the White House.
“In Kenya we drive on the other side” of the street, Obama said.