The executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police slammed President Obama for criticizing the actions of police in Ferguson, Missouri, saying he doubts the President has all the facts.
“I would contend that discussing police tactics from Martha’s Vineyard is not helpful to ultimately calming the situation,” FOP director Jim Pasco told The Hill on Thursday.
Pasco reminded the paper about Obama’s remarks in 2009 about a Massachusetts policeman whom he said “acted stupidly” when he arrested an African American professor and friend of the President. Those comments blew up in Obama’s face, forcing him to retrench and, in an effort to save face, initiate a “beer summit” between the officer and the arrested professor, with Obama acting as intermediary.
Pasco noted that the 2009 incident was “one where the President spoke precipitously without all the facts.” But the situation in Ferguson, Pasco said, “is a much larger and more tragic incident.”
As he vacationed in ritzy Martha’s Vineyard Thursday, Obama held a hastily convened press conference, where he tried to walk down the middle of the factions involved, suggesting that both sides were in the wrong.
“There is never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting,” Obama said. “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 went on to urge calm and said that it was time for level-headed investigations, not riots. “Now is the time for peace and calm on the streets of Ferguson. Now is the time for an open and transparent process to make sure justice is done.”
Pasco refused to say if the officer who shot teenager Michael Brown last Saturday was guilty of any misconduct, stating, instead, that he would leave such pronouncements to the officer’s defense and the subsequent investigation.
Obama was already on the golf course seven minutes after he made his comments on Thursday.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com.