POLITICS

Obama On Ferguson: 'No Excuse For Police To Use Excessive Force'

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama on Thursday urged calm amid violence in Ferguson, Missouri, where a militarized police force has been firing rubber bullets and spraying tear gas at residents peacefully protesting the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager shot to death Aug. 9 by a police officer.

"There is never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism and looting," Obama said in brief remarks from Martha's Vineyard, where he's been on vacation this week. "There's also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights."

The president acknowledged that people around the country have been "deeply disturbed" by the images coming out of Ferguson this week as police have clashed with protesters. He urged everyone to take a step back and let local and federal authorities carry out their investigations of Brown's death. The Justice Department and the FBI are both conducting independent investigations.

"Now is the time for healing, now is the time for peace and calm on the streets of Ferguson," he said.

Obama said he spoke to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) earlier Thursday and expressed his concerns about the violence taking place. He noted that Nixon is on his way to Ferguson.

"I'm confident that, working together, he's going be able to communicate his desire to make sure that justice is done and his desire to make sure that public safety is maintained in an appropriate way," he said.

Obama also commented on the Wednesday arrests of two reporters, one from The Huffington Post and one from The Washington Post.

"Here in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and report to the American people on what they see on the ground," he said. "We all need to hold ourselves to a high standard, particular those of us in positions of authority."

These are Obama's first public remarks on the matter since Brown was killed on Saturday. He issued a statement earlier this week, calling Brown's death "heartbreaking."

See updates on the situation in Ferguson below: