Calling for understanding in the face of racially charged anger, President Barack Obama said today that the vast majority of protesters in a St. Louis suburb were peaceful, but warned that a small minority was undermining justice for the unarmed black man shot and killed by police. During a brief pause in his summer vacation, Obama expressed sympathy for the "passions and anger" sparked by the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, but said giving in to that anger through looting and attacks on police only stirs tensions and leads to further chaos. He said overcoming the mistrust endemic between many communities and their local police would require Americans to "listen and not just shout."
"That's how we're going to move forward together, by trying to unite each other and understand each other and not simply divide ourselves from one another," Obama told reporters at the White House. Obama said Attorney General Eric Holder would travel to Ferguson this week to meet with FBI and other officials carrying out an independent federal investigation into Brown's death. He said he also had told Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon he wanted to ensure that the use of the National Guard to help calm tensions in Ferguson must be limited in scope. Nixon lifted Ferguson's curfew today, but tensions remained high the morning after police once again deployed tear gas in response to what they said were reports of gunfire, looting, and vandalism by protesters.