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Obama: Ferguson Protesters Have ‘Very Legitimate Grievances’

During his appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night, President Obama reacted to the shootings of two police officers outside a Police station in Ferguson, Missouri.

“Thankfully they’re OK,” Obama said, adding that although it wasn’t clear what exactly happened his “thoughts and prayers” were with the two officers and their families.

The two police officers, one who shot in the face, and one who was shot in the shoulder, were treated at the hospital and released, while no arrests have been made in connection with the shooting.

Speaking to Kimmel, Obama discussed his speech recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Selma marches last week, praising the historic efforts by civil rights leaders to bring about change in a “non-violent fashion.”

Obama also expressed his belief that there were good reasons to protest the actions taken by the Ferguson police department. He did not specifically refer to the shooting of Michael Brown, referring to it instead as the “original Ferguson event.”

“I think that what has been happening in Ferguson was oppressive and objectionable and was worthy of protest, but there was no excuse for criminal acts and whoever fired those shots shouldn’t detract from the issue,” he said, calling them “criminals” who need to be arrested.

Obama cautioned Americans, however, against letting violent actions marginalize the goals of peaceful protesters.

“They’re not the majority,” he explained. “In the same way, you can’t generalize about police officers, who do an extraordinarily tough job, overwhelmingly they do it professionally, you can’t generalize about protesters, who, it turns out, had some very legitimate grievances.”

He pointed to the Justice Department report that showed that African-Americans were being stopped by police so that the city could make money.

“There was a whole structure there, according to the Justice Department report, that indicated that both racism and just a disregard for what law enforcement’s supposed to do,” he said.

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