Yesterday President Obama reminded protesters in Ferguson – and elsewhere – that First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble and protest injustice do not include a right to commit violence. (More)

President Obama: “Keep Protests Peaceful” (Non-Cynical Saturday)

Many political leaders spoke about the possibility of violent unrest this week. On Monday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) declared a state of emergency “in anticipation of” announcements by grand juries investigating the death of Michael Brown. Brown was unarmed when he was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, and both the Department of Justice and St. Louis County prosecutors convened grand juries in the case. Governor Nixon’s order stated “regardless of the outcomes of the federal and state criminal investigations, there is the possibility of expanded unrest.”

Well yes, considering the KKK threatened to use deadly force against protesters. The online activist group Anonymous outed Klan members responsible for the threats, and the KKK responded by threatening to murder Anonymous members:

“If the rule of law doesn’t apply to the president….”

Also this week, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) warned that President Obama’s executive order on immigration reform might spark “anarchy” and “violence” because “if the law doesn’t apply to the president … then why should it apply to me?”

And Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) said President Obama’s order may bring on “ethnic cleansing,” although yesterday he claimed he was misunderstood:

“The whole preceding hour was about the rule of law being under threat. That’s all I said,” Kobach said.

“But I said very clearly in the comments that I still don’t think it could happen here. I find the left wing attempts to read into my statements things that are not there ridiculous.”

Kobach said he was just trying to be polite to the caller.

“The guy just brought up ethnic cleansing out of the blue, and I tried to be polite with him as I disagreed with him and said that’s not going to happen,” Kobach said. “I’m actually a very friendly host.”

Here are his exact words:

“What protects us in America from any kind of ethnic cleansing is the rule of law, of course,” Kobach said. “And the rule of law used to be unassailable, used to be taken for granted in America. And now, of course, we have a President who disregards the law when it suits his interests. And, so, you know, while I normally would answer that by saying, ‘Steve, of course we have the rule of law, that could never happen in America,’ I wonder what could happen. I still don’t think it’s going to happen in America, but I have to admit, that things are, things are strange and they’re happening.”

Gee, how could anyone misunderstand that?

“This is a country that allows everybody to express their views”

Fortunately, President Obama was much clearer:

President Barack Obama today – in an exclusive interview with ABC News – urged the residents of [Ferguson] and all others to “keep protests peaceful.”

“This is a country that allows everybody to express their views. Allows them to peacefully assemble, to protest actions that they think are unjust. But using any event as an excuse for violence is contrary to rule of law and contrary to who we are,” Obama told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos[.]

And just yesterday, in announcing new guidelines and best practices for police, Attorney General Eric Holder reminded protesters that “the most successful and enduring movements for change are those that adhere to nonaggression and nonviolence.”

“I do not want my son’s death to be in vain”

Michael Brown’s father echoed the call for peaceful protest:

Hello, my name is Michael Brown, Sr. My family and I are hurting. Our whole region is hurting. I thank you for lifting your voices to end racial profiling and police intimidation. But 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. I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone. We live here together. This is our home. We are stronger united. Continue to lift your voices with us, and let’s worth together to heal, to create lasting for all people, regardless of race. Thank you.

ABC News reported that the St. Louis County grand jury were still meeting last night, and the New York Times reported that Officer Darren Wilson will not return to the Ferguson Police Department, and will not receive severance pay or compensation in exchange for his resignation.

The Jennings School District, which borders Ferguson, extended the Thursday-Friday Thanksgiving break to cover all of next week “out of caution over the impending grand jury decision.”

We join President Obama, Attorney General Holder, and Michael Brown’s father in calling for protests to remain peaceful, on both sides of the police line, no matter the grand jury outcomes. Let the kids in Jennings have a nice week off.


Happy Saturday!