NEW YORK -- President Barack Obama said Tuesday he had no sympathy for those who engaged in violence during the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, but pledged to work with minority communities to improve underlying tensions with law enforcement.
Obama said the frustration in Ferguson was a manifestation of larger frustrations in minority communities that laws were being unfairly enforced.
"The frustrations that we've seen are not just about a particular incident, they have deep roots in many communities of color," Obama said during an appearance in Chicago, where he was scheduled to speak about immigration.
Obama also said the issues underlying the protests in Ferguson extended beyond the Missouri suburb.
"If any part of the American community doesn't feel welcomed or treated fairly, that's something that puts all of us at risk, and we all have to be concerned about," he said. "The problem is not just a Ferguson problem, it is an American problem.”
Obama said training police properly and having police forces that were representative of the populations they served were things that could make a difference.
"Those who are prepared to work constructively -- your president will work with you," he said.
Obama on Tuesday pledged to work with communities across the country, but strongly condemned violent actions that took place in Ferguson Monday evening.
"Nothing of benefit results from destructive acts," he said. "To those who think that what happened in Ferguson is an excuse for violence, I do not have any sympathy for that."
Obama also called actions like torching buildings and burning cars "criminal acts" and said those who committed them should be prosecuted.
Obama also made brief comments late Monday evening and urged calm after St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced that a grand jury would not bring charges against Darren Wilson, a Ferguson police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in August.
"I join Michael's parents in asking anyone who protests this decision to do so peacefully," Obama said. "Let me repeat Michael's father's words: 'Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer. No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son's death to be in vain.'"
There were demonstrations across the country in solidarity with those in Ferguson on Monday. Obama was briefed on the situation in Ferguson by Attorney General Eric Holder before he left for Chicago on Tuesday.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) also announced on Tuesday that he would deploy an additional 2,200 Missouri National Guard troops to assist the 700 who had initially been put in place on Monday.
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