Ferguson Protests: Will Demonstrations Spread Nationwide?

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Aug. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Bloomberg’s Al Hunt discusses the ongoing violence in Ferguson, Missouri in the wake of the killing of an unarmed black teenager by a police officer. (Source: Bloomberg)

President obama help calm the situation?

We are putting the question to al hunt.

Let's begin by asking this -- you have seen race riots in this country before -- rodney king, for example, detroit how chicago in the 60's. what do you make of the pictures we see coming out of ferguson?

They are deeply disturbing for several reasons.

All -- first of all, this is nine days after michael brown was killed, so the violence is escalating.

Eyewitnesses said some of it seemed planned.

This is not a particularly competent police force.

The fear is it could spread elsewhere.

It's bad enough in ferguson.

It is becoming more intense in ferguson.

Call it sympathy protests if you will, elsewhere in the country.

Racial politics -- we can describe them in national terms, but in practice, it tends to be a local thing.

What would it take for what is happening in ferguson to transmogrify into something truly national and national on a violent scale?

Let's hope that it doesn't. some of the same symptoms present in ferguson are evident in many other communities around the country.

What happened in ferguson was simple in this sense -- 20 years ago, it was three quarters white and today it's two thirds black.

None of the power structure has changed.

The mayor, school board, 95% of these cool -- of the police force is white.

That has created some tensions.

A lot of their revenue depends on law enforcement citations -- traffic and the like.

That puts added pressure on bike cops to harass lack citizens and that's a bad system.

Taking a look at the landscape of what president obama has to confront dealing with a situation like ferguson, what has been his response so far and the response to his response?

They say they have the justice department intensively involved with this and they are going to do another autopsy.

They have sent fbi agents out there.

The president is meeting with the attorney general to talk about it.

He is on vacation in martha's vineyard.

What else could he do?

I suppose he could go to ferguson and preach calm.

He could federalize the national guard.

I'm not sure how effective that would be and it certainly entails risk.

He could also talk about the victim if he wanted to.

President obama made comments directly about trayvon martin after he was killed but he has not spoken directly to the murder -- i will call it murder -- that's wrong.

To the killing of michael brown.

We don't know the facts.

This is a terrible, terrible incident -- pardon me for interrupting, but did we know all the fact in the trayvon martin and george zimmerman the case?

I'm not sure if we did there.

The question was, was there a deadly assault here?

The former new york city examiner said this kid was shot six times.

Twice in the head.

There's at least one eyewitness account i've seen on television that said he was not treading the police officer.

The police put out the word that he was.

We don't know the facts yet.

I think there's a problem for the president to get deeply involved in the facts before we are fully aware of them.

But this is one more crisis president obama has to deal with with a potential backlash in the u.s. the sure does.

What a year and has been for him.

Every place you look around the globe, there's violence and disorder.

Then to have it happen in one of our own communities just compounds a very difficult year.

Let's see how this plays out and let's see what more the fbi does.

Let's see what eric holder does -- we know this police force is incompetent.

That does not mean we can't judge that police officer guilty at this stage.

We know something terrible happened but the problem is that it should not have happened that night that so far, information has been very scarce all stop perhaps the president has learned his lesson.

He came under fire for making the comment after trayvon martin was killed come a saying that could have been my son.

He came under fire in 2009 when he commented directly on the arrest of henry louis gates.

He said the cops acted stupidly and he came under fire for that.

Until all the facts are known, maybe it's far better for the president to reserve judgment.

It's why it is difficult to take other action, like knowing out there.

There are people out there doing a good job.

The impression one gets, at least me accounts that i have read and watched, the fellow from missouri, the national guard has been empathetic.

I think the police force is totally incompetent.

But there are other people and i'm not sure what else you can do right now.

Before we let you go, i would like to ask your opinion on the issue that has been raised in the context of what happened in ferguson and the way the police have addressed the riots.

In a militaristic fashion.

What is your opinion on the militarization of america's police forces?

I think it has gone too far.

There are some areas where you can certainly help the local police force with more effective weapons and machinery and more effective technology.

But i think it has leaked onto far.

When you look at those pictures -- we ought to say as bad as this issue is in ferguson and in a lot of other places, there are areas in this country where we really have had much under police community relations and community policing, some very sensitive police chiefs have done a much better job.

It can be done, but it is hard and takes time.

Al hunt, columnist for "bloomberg view." it may look like a normal kitchen, but the big difference is that chef is

This text has been automatically generated. It may not be 100% accurate.


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