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Obama on Ferguson: Time to listen, not just shout

Published: Monday, Aug. 18, 2014 4:02 p.m. CST • Updated: Monday, Aug. 18, 2014 4:03 p.m. CST
Caption
(Charles Dharapak)
President Barack Obama speaks in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Aug. 18, 2014. Taking a two-day break from summer vacation, President Barack Obama met with top advisers at the White House Monday to review developments in Iraq and in racially charged Ferguson, Mo., two trouble spots where Obama has ordered his administration to intervene. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Caption
(Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, left, meet with members of the National Security Council, Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. Also at the meeting, from left are, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, Biden, Obama, Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken, and Homeland Security Adviser Lisa Monaco. Obama took a break in the middle of his Martha's Vineyard vacation to return to Washington for meetings with advisers on the U.S. military campaign in Iraq and tensions between police and protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON – Calling for understanding in the face of racially charged anger, President Barack Obama said Monday that the vast majority of protesters in a St. Louis suburb were peaceful, but warned that a small minority was undermining justice for the unarmed black man shot and killed by police.

During a brief pause in his summer vacation, Obama expressed sympathy for the "passions and anger" sparked by the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, but said giving in to that anger through looting and attacks on police only stirs tensions and leads to further chaos. He said overcoming the mistrust endemic between many communities and their local police would require Americans to "listen and not just shout."

"That's how we're going to move forward together, by trying to unite each other and understand each other and not simply divide ourselves from one another," Obama told reporters at the White House. "We're going to have to hold tight to those values."

Speaking after meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder, Obama said Holder would travel to Ferguson to meet with FBI and other officials carrying out an independent federal investigation into Brown's death. He said he also had told Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon he wanted to ensure the use the National Guard in help calm tensions in Ferguson must be limited in scope, and said he would be monitoring that operation in the coming days to see whether the guard's involvement was helping or hurting.

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