President Barack Obama took a break from his vacation at Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., to speak on the rising tensions surrounding police and protesters in Ferguson, Mo., where an unarmed 18-year-old was fatally shot by a police officer Saturday.
The president called for calm and asked for protesters and police to “take a step back.”
“Now is the time for all of us to reflect on what happened,” Obama said.
He noted that he has been fully aware of the events and has been updated by Attorney General Eric Holder. Obama emphasized that he has “already tasked the Department of Justice and the FBI to independently investigate the death of Michael Brown, along with local officials on the ground.”
The president also stated that he believed that the police should be “open and transparent” about their investigation and noted that there was no excuse for violence toward police or looting. “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,” Obama added.
The president also said that those rubbed raw by the recent events should remember that “we are all a part of one American family.”
“We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds,” Obama said.
Read the full transcript of the president’s remarks here.