I want to address something that’s been in the news over the last couple of days and that’s the situation in Ferguson, Missouri. I know that many Americans have been deeply disturbed by the images we’ve seen in the heartland of our country, as police have clashed with people protesting. Today, I’d like us all to take a step back and think about how we’re going to be moving forward.
This morning, I received a thorough update on the situation from Attorney General Eric Holder, who has been following it and been in communication with his team. I’ve already tasked the Department of Justice and the FBI to independently investigate the death of Michael Brown, along with local officials on the ground.
The Department of Justice is also consulting with local authorities about ways that they can maintain public safety without restricting the right of peaceful protest and while avoiding unnecessary escalation. I made clear to the Attorney General that we should do what is necessary to help determine exactly what happened, and to see that justice is done.
I also just spoke with Governor Jay Nixon of Missouri. I expressed my concern over the violent turn that events have taken on the ground, and underscored that now is the time for all of us to reflect on what’s happened, and to find a way to come together going forward. He is going to be traveling to Ferguson. He is a good man and a fine governor, and I’m confident that, working together, he is going to be able to communicate his desire to make sure that justice is done and his desire to make sure that public safety is maintained in an appropriate way.
Of course, it’s important to remember how this started. We lost a young man, Michael Brown, in heartbreaking and tragic circumstances. He was 18 years old. His family will never hold Michael in their arms again. And when something like this happens, the local authorities –- including the police -– have a responsibility to be open and transparent about how they are investigating that death, and how they are protecting the people in their communities.
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 protests, or to throw protestors in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights. And here, in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and report to the American people on what they see on the ground. Put simply, we all need to hold ourselves to a high standard, particularly those of us in positions of authority.
I know that emotions are raw right now in Ferguson and there are certainly passionate differences about what has happened. There are going to be different accounts of how this tragedy occurred. There are going to be differences in terms of what needs to happen going forward. That’s part of our democracy. But let’s remember that we’re all part of one American family. We are united in common values, and that includes belief in equality under the law; a basic respect for public order and the right to peaceful public protest; a reverence for the dignity of every single man, woman and child among us; and the need for accountability when it comes to our government.
So now is the time for healing. Now is the time for peace and calm on the streets of Ferguson. Now is the time for an open and transparent process to see that justice is done. And I’ve asked that the Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney on the scene continue to work with local officials to move that process forward. They will be reporting to me in the coming days about what’s being done to make sure that happens.
CBC NEWS: While Stephen Harper is still receptive to the tweets of Homer Simpson, he has stopped following the Russian prime minister on Twitter. Earlier this month, CBC News pointed out that the Simpson family’s patriarch and Dmitri Medvedev were among the noteworthy people and organizations that Harper followed on his Twitter account @pmharper. What made Medvedev’s inclusion particularly noteworthy was that he was the only foreign leader followed by Harper and that Medvedev’s tweets continued to be followed by Harper despite the tough criticism coming from the Conservative government about Moscow’s actions in Ukraine. Asked about the sudden unfollowing, Carl Vallée, a spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office, said in an email: “The Putin regime’s aggressive behaviour in illegally occupying Ukraine speaks for itself. We have no interest in following Russian propaganda.”
MASHABLE: DONETSK, Ukraine – Strelkov is out. The military commander of Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine, who ordered the executions of at least three men by firing squad and boasted on social media about shooting Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 out of the sky, resigned on Thursday, according to the news agency of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s republic (DNR). Igor Girkin, a Russian nationalist and former security service agent better known by his nom de guerre “Strelkov,” or “Shooter,” stepped down after conflicting reports on Thursday that he had been severely wounded in battle near the city of Torez, Donetsk region..continued
Foreign Policy: Since the White House announced plans to bomb Iraq on Aug. 7, a predictable set of Washington players has taken the opportunity to blame the Obama administration’s missteps for the capture of broad swaths of Iraq by radical jihadists. But while U.S. jets pound the Islamic State’s positions in northern Iraq, President Barack Obama has been firing back at critics at home. When a reporter asked Obama last Saturday if withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq had caused the current situation there, the president pointed the finger back at the Bush administration and its supporters. “So that entire analysis is bogus and is wrong. But it is frequently peddled around here by folks who oftentimes are trying to defend previous policies that they themselves made,” the president said. Meanwhile, the president’s critics, including notably Sen. John McCain, have accused Obama of not just doing too little in Syria or Iraq, but having “lost” a war in Iraq that George W. Bush had “won.”…
The task for anyone concerned about the parlous developments in the Middle East is to persuade Americans that the previous administration’s blunders over Saddam Hussein’s illusory weapons of mass destruction should not prejudice the current administration’s efforts to deal with the very real threat of a brutal, highly capable extremist group attempting to take over the heart of the Middle East. That change in American public opinion won’t happen as long as proponents of greater U.S. intervention in Iraq run away from the reality of the Bush intervention. Indeed, the charge of having “lost” the Iraq War only prompts critics of that war, like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, to issue pointed reminders of the litany of Bush-era Iraq mistakes. “We’re stuck listening to the very same neocons who pushed us into the Iraq War in the first place, as they try to plunge our military into another foreign misadventure,” Reid said on the Senate floor…..
A member of the U.S. Mt. Sinjar Assessment Team receives a warm welcome from locals near Sinjar, Iraq, Aug 13 (1/2) pic.twitter.com/OLpPQadSso
On This Day: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama react to daughter Sasha’s hole in one while playing miniature golf at Pirate’s Island Golf in Panama City Beach, Fla., Saturday, Aug. 14, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)