Speaking before the United Nations General Assembly Wednesday, President Barack Obama cited the racial strife in Ferguson, Missouri, as an example of where America has "failed to live up to our ideals."
Obama was giving a much-anticipated address on global leadership, where he laid out his justification for the United States targeting terrorists in Syria and Iraq.
"I realize that America’s critics will be quick to point out that at times we too have failed to live up to our ideals; that America has plenty of problems within our own borders," he said. "This is true. In a summer marked by instability in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, I know the world also took notice of the small American city of Ferguson, Missouri -- where a young man was killed, and a community was divided. So yes, we have our own racial and ethnic tensions."
Ferguson made international news after a white police officer shot Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, on Aug. 9. Members of the majority-black St. Louis suburb turned out to protest in the weeks following the shooting, calling for justice and greater representation in their local government. Darren Wilson, the police officer who killed Brown, has not been charged with a crime.
Obama said despite the nation's shortcomings, "we welcome the scrutiny of the world -- because what you see in America is a country that has steadily worked to address our problems and make our union more perfect."
"America is not the same as it was 100 years ago, 50 years ago, or even a decade ago," he added. "Because we fight for our ideals, and are willing to criticize ourselves when we fall short. Because we hold our leaders accountable, and insist on a free press and independent judiciary."
Attorney General Eric Holder visited Ferguson last month, and the Department of Justice has been conducting an independent investigation into Brown's death. Obama spoke on the situation there on Aug. 18, calling on everyone to "to seek some understanding rather than simply holler at each other."
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