President Barack Obama announced that he has no intention of appearing in Baltimore, Md., the city 43 miles from his White House residence which has been besieged by violent riots in the wake of the April 19 death of Freddie Gray.
Obama said he may visit Baltimore “once things clear up.” For now, though, he believes he should stay away because of the tense atmosphere and the massive police presence combating rioters.
In the interview, Obama also condemned the high level of violence seen in Baltimore in recent days, calling the violence and looting “counterproductive.”
“The kind of violence, looting, destruction that we saw from a handful of individuals in Baltimore, there’s no excuse for that,” the president told Harvey. “That’s not a statement. That’s not politics. That’s not activism. It’s just criminal behavior.”
He addressed what he believes are the root causes of the rioting in the interview as well.
“If you send police officers into those situations where the drug trade is the primary economy and you say to them basically your job is to contain that and arrest kids and put them in jail when those police officers know [it’s not going to fix things], then it’s not surprising you end up with a situation of enormous tension between those communities and those police officers,” Obama opined.
Obama’s solution to the plague of violence in Baltimore is to build a huge, cradle-to-grave government apparatus to watch over people. He called for “a political movement” to assist people in poor communities from the time they are born which would include early childhood education, infrastructure spending and new drug sentencing laws.
In lieu of visiting riot-torn Baltimore on Wednesday, Obama dropped in for a surprise visit at a Teaism cafe. Teaism is a small chain of Asian-inspired restaurants in the Washington, D.C. area hawking tea as “art and love” — “not just commerce.” Menu items include golden monkey tea and lavender lemon mint tea as well as kale salad, a grass-fed burger and a handful of bento boxes.
A Time reporter, Zeke Miller, was at the restaurant. He attempted to report the event using his mobile phone and an app called Periscope. However, the effort fizzled when Obama demanded that Miller stop filming and Miller complied.
Obama just cancelled @ZekeJMiller’s Periscope at Teaism. “Put those away."
— Oliver Griswold (@originalgriz) April 29, 2015
Wow Obama shuts down @ZekeJMiller for Periscoping his Tea shop visit – "you don't need to be recording this"
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) April 29, 2015