As National Guard troops responded to rioting in Baltimore, President Barack Obama said Tuesday that there have been too many troubling police interactions with black citizens across America in what he called “a slow-rolling crisis.” But he said there was no excuse for rioters to engage in senseless violence.
Obama said people in Baltimore who stole from businesses and burned buildings and cars should be treated as criminals. “They aren’t protesting, they aren’t making a statement, they’re stealing,” Obama said.
Obama spoke at a White House press conference with the Japanese prime minister the day after violence broke out 40 miles north after the funeral for Freddie Gray, a black man who died in Baltimore police custody under mysterious circumstances.
Obama said the case should prompt some “soul searching” in America about communities where young men are more likely to end up in jail or dead than completing school.
He said police should not be expected to do the “dirty work” and solutions should involve early education, criminal justice reform and job training. He said American can’t just “pay attention to these communities when a CVS burns.”
“We have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals, primarily African-American, often poor, in ways that raise troubling questions.
It comes up, it seems like, once a week now,” Obama said. He said it’s not new, but there’s new awareness as a result of cameras and social media.