President Barack Obama on Monday urged calm from both law-enforcement officials and protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, the St. Louis suburb whereprotests and riots have raged in the wake of the fatal shootingof 18-year-old Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer.
“Let’s seek to heal, rather than to wound each other,” Obama said in a statement from the White House, where he addressed the situation in Ferguson and U.S. military involvement in Iraq.
Obama announced that Attorney General Eric Holder, with whom he met at the White House on Monday, will travel to Ferguson on Wednesday to “assess the situation” and hold meetings with law-enforcement officials investigating Brown’s death. Holder has ordered a federal autopsy to be performed on Brown’s body.
Obama took questions after his statement, and he was asked if he would visit Ferguson or if he felt he could “do more” to help communities like Ferguson. He said it was important to distinguish issues of local jurisdiction and warned about wading his thoughts into the discussion.
“I have to be very careful about prejudging before the investigation is completed,” Obama said.
Obama last addressed the situation in Ferguson last Thursday in a statement from Martha’s Vineyard, where he and his family have been vacationing. He is back in Washington for two days for what the White House says is meetings with advisers before heading back to Martha’s Vineyard for the rest of the week.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) lifted a midnight curfew Monday that had been imposed for the two previous nights, amid increasing violence. Obama addressed the protests, saying that while the vast majority of protests had been peaceful, a “small majority” had not. Giving into anger over Brown’s death by looting or seeking to attack police only “undermines instead of advancing justice,” Obama said.
Obama said he had spoken Monday with Nixon as well as Missouri Sens. Roy Blunt (R) and Claire McCaskill (D).
Meanwhile, Obama addressed the situation in Iraq for the sixth time over the past 12 days, as the U.S. has over that span begun a campaign of airstrikes aimed at aiding Iraqi forces in their fight against radical Islamic militants from the group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL).
The Pentagon said that it had conducted 15 airstrikes Monday near the Mosul Dam, the country’s largest dam that provides electricity and water to a large portion of the country. The U.S.’s airstrike campaign has helped Iraqi and Kurdish forces to wrest back control of the dam from ISIS fighters. Since Aug. 8, the Pentagon said, the U.S. has conducted 68 airstrikes in Iraq — 35 of them coming near the Mosul Dam.
“Today — with our support — Iraqi forces took a major step forward in their operations to recapture the largest dam in Iraq,” Obama said.
This post was updated with Obama’s remarks.
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