President Obama addressed the nation Thursday (Aug. 14) to urge a peaceful resolve to the unrest in Ferguson, Mo. Speaking from vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, the president echoed his original statements on Michael Brown’s murder, along with commenting on heightened clashes overnight.
“I know emotions are raw right now in Ferguson,” he said. “And there are certainly passionate difference about what has happened. But let’s remember that we’re ll part of one American family, we are united in common values and that includes the belief in equality under the law, respect for public order and the right to peaceful public protests.”
He continued, “There is never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting. There’s also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protestors.”
The U.S. Justice Department will investigate Brown’s shooting death.
In addition, Missouri’s Gov. John Nixon has now stepped in to grab hold of the conflict, appointing the state’s Highway Patrol to take over for local authorities. The shift of power has already had some change in the protests. Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald S. Johnson, a native of the city, marched along with a group of demonstrators down a Ferguson street earlier today.
Local authorities say that they have been pelted with rocks and other items by Ferguson residents. They have used smoke bombs and tear gas, throughout neighborhoods in the city.
The unrest erupted immediately after Brown was gunned down in broad daylight last Saturday. Brown, 18, was shot several times, according to witnesses. Police say he and the shooting officer scuffled beforehand. A new witness recount substantiated the tussle story. “As I was coming around, I heard the tires squeaking on the truck and as I get closer, I see them tussling through the window,” Tiffany Mitchell recalled. “The kid was pulling off and the cop was pulling in.”
Mitchell saw Brown run away from the cop car once the first shot was fired. The officer followed him, shooting over and over. While Brown had his hands in the air, he shot again. “After his body jerked he turns around, puts his hands up, and the cop continues to walk up on him and continues to shoot until he goes all the way down,” said Mitchell.
Ferguson police will not reveal the officer’s name for safety reasons.
See video of the president’s statement below. Hit the gallery for photos from protests in Ferguson, and cities around the country participating in the National Moment of Silence (#NMOS14).