President Barack Obama waves as he is introduced at Copernicus Community Center in Chicago to speak on immigration reform
The President’s remarks on Ferguson
I need to begin by saying a few words about what’s happened over the past day, not just in Ferguson, Missouri, our neighbor to the south, but all across America.
As many of you know, a verdict came down – or a grand jury made a decision yesterday that upset a lot of people. And as I said last night, the frustrations that we’ve seen are not just about a particular incident. They have deep roots in many communities of color who have a sense that our laws are not always being enforced uniformly or fairly. That may not be true everywhere, and it’s certainly not true for the vast majority of law enforcement officials, but that’s an impression that folks have and it’s not just made up. It’s rooted in realities that have existed in this country for a long time.
Now, as I said last night, there are productive ways of responding and expressing those frustrations, and there are destructive ways of responding. Burning buildings, torching cars, destroying property, putting people at risk – that’s destructive and there’s no excuse for it. Those are criminal acts, and people should be prosecuted if they engage in criminal acts.
But what we also saw – although it didn’t get as much attention in the media – was people gathering in overwhelmingly peaceful protest – here in Chicago, in New York, in Los Angeles, other cities.
We’ve seen young people who were organizing, and people beginning to have real conversations about how do we change the situation so that there’s more trust between law enforcement and some of these communities. And those are necessary conversations to have.
We’re here to talk about immigration, but part of what makes America this remarkable place is being American doesn’t mean you have to look a certain way or have a certain last name or come from a certain place; it has to do with a commitment to ideals, a belief in certain values. And if any part of the American community doesn’t feel welcomed or treated fairly, that’s something that puts all of us at risk and we all have to be concerned about it.
So my message to those people who are constructively moving forward, trying to organize, mobilize, and ask hard, important questions about how we improve the situation – I want all those folks to know that their President is going to work with them. Separate and apart from the particular circumstances in Ferguson, which I am careful not to speak to because it’s not my job as President to comment on ongoing investigations and specific cases, but the frustrations people have generally – those are rooted in some hard truths that have to be addressed.
And so those who are prepared to work constructively, your President will work with you. And a lot of folks, I believe, in law enforcement and a lot of folks in city halls and governor’s offices across the country want to work with you as well.
So as part of that, I’ve instructed Attorney General Eric Holder not just to investigate what happened in Ferguson, but also identify specific steps we can take together to set up a series of regional meetings focused on building trust in our communities. And next week, we’ll bring together state and local officials, and law enforcement, and community leaders and faith leaders to start identifying very specific steps that we can take to make sure that law enforcement is fair and is being applied equally to every person in this country.
And we know certain things work. We know that if we train police properly, that that improves policing and makes people feel that the system is fair. We know that when we have a police force that is representative of the communities it’s serving that makes a difference. And we know that when there’s clear accountability and transparency when something happens that makes a difference.
So there are specific things we can do, and the key now is for us to lift up the best practices and work, city by city, state by state, county by county, all across this country, because the problem is not just a Ferguson problem, it is an American problem. And we’ve got to make sure that we are actually bringing about change.
The bottom line is, nothing of significance, nothing of benefit results from destructive acts. I’ve never seen a civil rights law, or a health care bill, or an immigration bill result because a car got burned. It happened because people vote. It happened because people mobilize. It happened because people organize. It happens because people look at what are the best policies to solve the problem. That’s how you actually move something forward.
So don’t take the short-term, easy route and just engage in destructive behavior. Take the long-term, hard but lasting route of working with me and governors and state officials to bring about some real change.
And to those who think that what happened in Ferguson is an excuse for violence, I do not have any sympathy for that. I have no sympathy at all for destroying your own communities.
But for the overwhelming majority of people who just feel frustrated and pain because they get a sense that maybe some communities aren’t treated fairly, or some individuals aren’t seen as worthy as others, I understand that. And I want to work with you and I want to move forward with you.
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi looks on as President Barack Obama shakes hands after a roundtable with members of parliament and civil society to discuss Myanmar’s reform process in Naypyitaw, Myanmar
President Barack Obama with Myanmar President Thein Sein ahead of the 9th East Asia summit plenary session at Myanmar International Convention Center in Naypyitaw, Myanmar
President Barack Obama speaks with Aung San Suu Kyi
President Barack Obama speaks at a U.S.-ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations East Asia) session at the Myanmar International Convention Center
President Barack Obama talks to members of his delegation as he attends an East Asia Summit Plenary at the Myanmar International Convention Center in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. With President Obama are Nina Hachigian, U.S. Ambassador to the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and U.S. Ambassador to Myanmar Derek J. Mitchell
President Barack Obama and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung hold a bilateral meeting. President Obama says he sees opportunities for deeper engagement and cooperation with Vietnam despite the difficult history between the two nations
From left, South Korea President Park Geun Hye, U.S. President Barack Obama, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, arrive for group photo session during the East Asia summit
Myanmar university students walk past a graffiti of President Barack Obama on a roadside in Yangon, Myanmar
President Barack Obama smiles as he joins hands with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations at a group photo session during the 2nd ASEAN-U.S Summit at Myanmar International Convention Center in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. They are from left: Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Obama, Myanmar President Thein Sein, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen
President Barack Obama speaks about the economy at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Virginia. President Barack Obama envisions a time when cars will be able to talk with other cars or with America’s roads. He says such technology could prevent crashes, cut down on traffic and save gasoline.
President Barack Obama is given a tour of vehicles equipted with V2I technology by Joe Peters while at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Virginia
President Barack Obama looks over his shoulder while driving a simulator
President Barack Obama began a two-day visit to Minneapolis on Thursday sharing cheeseburgers with a local working mother and bringing a middle-class message tailor made to aid Democrats fearful of massive losses in the upcoming election. Obama said he shares the frustrations of people who went to college, work hard, and still struggle to buy homes, pay for child care, and dig out from student loan debt. “You are the reason I ran for office,” he told a crowd of about 350 people gathered for a town hall forum near Minnehaha Falls. In his early life, he said, “I was you guys … You are the ones I am thinking about every single day.”
Obama talked about progress his administration has made curbing greenhouse gases and making college more affordable, but devoted much of his time to touting the need for a higher minimum wage and equal pay and benefits for women. Those issues resonate strongly in Minnesota, where Gov. Mark Dayton (D) and a Democratic-controlled Legislature enacted the largest minimum wage increase in state history this year and approved a menu of economic protections for women in the workplace. “The idea that they would not be paid the same or not have the same opportunities … is infuriating,” Obama said of female workers. “If you are doing the same job, you should get the same salary. Period. Full stop.”
We have great news in Moneygall! A visitor centre named after President Obama, which will focus on his ancestry, will open in two weeks’ time.
It will serve as a welcoming point into the ancestral home of the President and will tell the story of his Irish Ancestry and of that historic trip to Moneygall on 05/23/11 (3 years this Friday).
We will also highlight the other 21 American Presidents with Irish ancestry and many more famous Irish Americans. It will be an Oasis on the M7 Motorway, only 1.5 hours from Dublin.
This centre will be free to visit and I have been tasked with getting memorabilia for the area.
I was wondering if any of The Obama Diary’s followers would like to send us anything connected with President Obama, his 1st election, inauguration and the subsequent election and inauguration, that we could put on display in the centre?
If people are willing to share badges, bumper stickers, newspapers, election posters, etc, we would be delighted.
We understand people would like to keep these items, but maybe if they had duplicates – eg two copies of the same newspaper or magazine – they might consider sending them to me.
(Note from Chips: Anyone who would like to send items to Henry, just email me at TheObamaDiary@gmail.com and I will give you his address)
We want this to be an exciting location with lots for people to see, so hopefully the dedicated The Obama Diary contributors and followers can send something to us for our exhibitions – and when you visit Moneygall, we will ensure you all receive the warmest of welcomes!
Kind Regards to everyone at The Obama Diary, and many thanks,
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet Henry Healy, the President’s distant cousin, after arriving in Moneygall, Ireland, May 23, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)