- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 25, 2014

After his appeals largely were disregarded Monday night, President Obama on Tuesday again pleaded for calm and restraint in Ferguson, Mo., and across the country — but this time he also had a warning for those who have resorted to violence, saying looters and anyone else who breaks the law should be prosecuted.

“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,” the president said during a speech in Chicago. “Those are criminal acts, and people should be prosecuted if they engage in criminal acts.”

Mr. Obama repeated many of the points he made Monday evening in a White House speech delivered just hours after a Ferguson grand jury decided there should be no charges brought against police officer Darren Wilson in connection with the August shooting death of teenager Michael Brown.

The president again said there are very real problems between some law enforcement agencies and minority groups, with distrust having been built up over decades.

He said he and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. will work with civil rights and religious leaders, along with local, county and state officials, to come up with solutions, including making sure police departments are racially representative of the communities they serve.

But Tuesday’s speech differed from Monday’s address in that Mr. Obama had especially harsh words for the demonstrators who torched cars and buildings and looted businesses in Ferguson on Monday night.

Officials fear similar acts could take place throughout the night Tuesday, and there is expected to be a greater police presence on the ground Tuesday night, along with National Guard troops.

“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,” the president said.

“It happened because people mobilize, people organize, 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.

“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,” he said.

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