President Obama says it is time to step back and plan for the future in Ferguson, where protests and vandalism have led to confrontations with police in the wake of a police shooting of an 18-year old man last Saturday.

Police filled a Ferguson street with tear gas Aug. 13. (courtesy LiveLeak, The Daily Lede)

The president “There is “never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting.”

But he also says, “There is also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protestors in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights. And here in the United States of American police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs.”

Reporters for the Washington Post and the Huffington Post and a St. Louis alderman were among those arrested last night.

The president spoke during a news conference in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.   He says he is aware of raw emotions and passionate differences about what has happened and what needs to happen, but now is a time for “healing, peace, and calm on the streets of Ferguson.”  He calls for an open transparent process to make sure justice is done.   He says the Attorney General and U.S. Attorney on the scene continue to work with local officials to “move that process forward” and expects reports from them in a few day on how that process is happening.

AUDIO: President on Ferguson 3:52