President Obama stopped by Jimmy Kimmel Live today for the first time since his presidential campaign in 2008. During the candid sit down with the late night comedian, Obama offered his first public commentary on last night's shooting of two Ferguson police officers during an otherwise peaceful protest.
After participating in some comedic bits —including the ever popular Mean Tweets series— Obama got real with the viewers as he spoke on the erupting tensions between the Ferguson community and the local justice system:
"There was no excuse for criminal acts. Obviously we don’t yet know what happened. Our thoughts and prayers are with the officers and their families, and thankfully, as you said, they’re going to be okay... What was beautiful about Selma was reminding ourselves that real social change in this country so often has happened because ordinary people are willing in a nonviolent fashion to make their voices heard."
Obama continued, driving the point home:
"There’s no excuse for criminal acts. Whoever fired those shots shouldn’t detract from the issue. They’re criminals. They need to be arrested. And then 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.
[A]nd in the same way that you can’t generalize about police officers who do an extraordinarily tough job, overwhelmingly, they do it professionally, you can’t generalize about protesters who it turns out had some very legitimate grievances. The Justice Department report showed that they were being stopped, African Americans were being stopped disproportionately, mainly so the city could raise money, even though these were unjust.”