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Published On: Wed, Apr 29th, 2015

President Obama condemns ‘criminals and thugs’ in Baltimore as the ‘slow rolling crisis’

President Barack Obama on Tuesday condemned the “criminals and thugs who tore up” the city of Baltimore on Monday night, after rioting and looting¬†incapacitated the city and overwhelmed local officials.

“There’s no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday. It is counterproductive,” Obama said at a press conference from the White House. “When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they’re not protesting. They’re not making a statement. They’re stealing. When they burn down a building, they’re committing arson. And they’re destroying and undermining businesses and opportunities in their own communities. That robs jobs and opportunity from people in that area.”

The sustained outbreak of violence followed the funeral for Freddie Gray, 25, a career criminal who died after he was arrested more than two weeks ago.

Freddie Gray Baltimore man died in police custodyCars were set on fire, stores were destroyed, and six officers were seriously injured. It was the first time Obama has commented on the turmoil in Baltimore that has followed Gray’s death.

“This is a slow-rolling crisis,” Obama said. “This has been going on for a long time. This is not new and we shouldn’t pretend it’s new.”

He said addressing issues in communities where jobs have fallen away and the illicit drug trade has become a key source of income

He said achieving those changes would require “that we don’t just pay attention to these communities when a CVS burns”

Obama said he spoke with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who was sworn in Monday, said the Justice Department is investigating Gray’s death.

Obama criticized the media’s coverage of the riots, saying the violence was a distraction from several days of peaceful protests, which should have received more attention.

“They were constructive and they were thoughtful. And frankly, didn’t that much attention,” he said of the peaceful protests. “And one burning building will be looped on television over and over and over again, and thousands of demonstrators who did it the right way, I think, have been lost in the discussion.”

“I think there are police departments that have to do some soul-searching. I think there are some communities that have to do some soul-searching,” Obama said. “But I think we as a country have to do some soul-searching.”

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid offered strong comments on the Senate floor Tuesday against the rioting.

“So let’s condemn the violence. But let’s not ignore the underlying problem. Let’s not pretend the system is fair. Let’s not pretend everything is okay,” he said. “Let’s not pretend the path from poverty like the one I traveled is still available to everyone out there as long as they work hard.”

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About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at [email protected] ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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  1. E. Ramirez says:

    How come everyone gets along with white people but African Americans?? Why does my Latino neighbor work 10 hours a day to provide for his family when my black neighbor sits at home and smokes crack on disability? Why does my Latino neighbor see his hard work as a way of life, while my black neighbor believes he’s poor and on drugs because white people oppress him? Questions about the present that liberals cannot answer without referring to the past.

  2. DavidPun says:

    Well so far they haven’t broken any Police officer’s spine.

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