Obama on Riots: Let's Not 'Feign Concern,' Move On
'Slow-rolling crisis' much larger than a police issue, says president
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 28, 2015 2:34 PM CDT
President Obama, accompanied by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, speaks during their joint news conference Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

(Newser) – President Obama took a question on the Baltimore riots today during a news conference with Japan's Shinzo Abe and ended up talking for nearly 15 minutes about what he termed the "slow-rolling crisis" enveloping America, reports the New York Times. "This isn't new, and we shouldn't pretend it's new," he said. Some highlights:

  • Systemic problem: This is not just a law-and-order issue, and thus the police alone can't fix it, he said. Obama argued that cities need far-reaching reforms in education and urban development as well as in their criminal justice systems, reports the Baltimore Sun.

  • Otherwise: "We'll go through the same cycles of periodic conflicts between the police and communities, and occasional riots in the streets. And everybody will feign concern until it goes away. Then we'll go about our business as usual."
  • Media attention: He complained that peaceful protests in the city didn't get much attention, reports Talking Points Memo. "One burning building will be looped on television over and over and over again. The thousands of demonstrators who did it the right way, I think, have been lost in the discussion."
  • 'Thugs': He called those responsible for the violence "criminals" and "thugs" and said there's "no excuse" for it.
  • To critics: “I can’t federalize every police department in the country and force them to retrain," he said, referring to complaints that he's not been aggressive enough in his response.