“They’re not protesting. They’re not making a statement"
President Obama condemned Monday night’s violent riots in Baltimore on Tuesday, saying there was “no excuse” for the looting and attacks on police, while also calling for the country to focus on addressing the larger issues of race and policing.
Obama began by expressing condolences to the family of Freddie Gray, who died of a spinal injury he sustained while in police custody earlier this month, and offering prayers for the police officers who were injured during Monday afternoon’s demonstrations. Following Gray’s funeral on Monday, rioters set more than 100 cars and 15 buildings on fire, and nearly 200 people were arrested.
“There is no excuse for that kind of violence,” Obama said during an unrelated press conference on the White House’s South Lawn with the Japanese Prime Minister. “It’s counterproductive.”
“They’re not protesting. They’re not making a statement,” Obama said of the looters who ravaged businesses and started fires. “They’re stealing…they’re committing arson.”
The President also called out the news media for focusing on the violent actions of Monday, rather than the days of peaceful protests on the streets of Baltimore that followed Gray’s death. Obama called the violence a “distraction” from the important conversations that should follow Gray’s death. Obama also praised community leaders and clergy members who returned to the streets on Tuesday to clean up and offer food to kids who were out of school.
“They deserve credit for that,” Obama said.