Some People Think President Obama Should Go To Ferguson

Demonstrators protest against the Aug. 9 police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by holding their hands up while gathered on the streets of Ferguson, Mo., late on Aug. 16.  (Joshua Lott/AFP/Getty Images)
Demonstrators protest against the Aug. 9 police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by holding their hands up while gathered on the streets of Ferguson, Mo., late on Aug. 16. (Joshua Lott/AFP/Getty Images)

In an unnerving intelligence bulletin issued this week, the FBI warned that the expected news this weekend that Officer Darren Wilson won’t be indicted in the death of black teenager Michael Brown could set off violence across the country. A source told one of our reporters that some law enforcement officials fear that the reaction could be as bad as the deadly Watts riots of the 1960s.

“The announcement of the grand jury’s decision … will likely be exploited by some individuals to justify threats and attacks against law enforcement and critical infrastructure,” the FBI warned. “This also poses a threat to those civilians engaged in lawful or otherwise constitutionally protected activities.”

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) has imposed a state of emergency in St. Louis, gun sales have skyrocketed and Ku Klux Klan leaders have threatened “lethal force” against protesters.

But there might be a way to prevent the outbreak of violence.

President Obama could go to Ferguson on Sunday, the day the announcement is expected, and by his presence, his outreach and perhaps his eloquent words, he and he alone might be able to prevent an eruption of polarizing race riots.

You might say he was made for this moment. The son of a white mother and a black father, he has always preached the gospel of reconciliation — there are not two Americas, there is only a United States of America, he has told us. The country elected him in part because he appealed to the better angels of our natures with his call to move past the battles we’ve been waging for a generation. A large part of his success was due to his both-sides message — that we all have more common ground than uncommon, that we can best solve our troubles by pulling together as one human, post-racial family.

With good reason, Obama has been reluctant to wade too deeply into such polarizing racial events after making too many waves during earlier ones. In 2009, when Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was arrested by Cambridge police for breaking into his own house, Obama criticized the arrest and the response by police, and immediately took flak from law enforcement organizations for bringing race into it when they felt like they were just doing their jobs. Obama later said he regretted his comments, and has shied away from stepping in when similar flashpoints have flared up. His counselors have generally warned him to stay above these frays, to remain once-removed and presidential about them.

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Source: Washington Post | Vincent Bzdek

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