President Barack Obama said there is “no excuse” for Monday night’s “senseless violence” in Baltimore, but said the country also needs to seriously examine the issues behind it.

“There’s no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday. It is counterproductive. When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they’re not protesting, they’re not making a statement — they’re stealing,” Obama said in his first public comments about the rioting and looting that swept the city. ”When they burn down a building, they’re committing arson and they’re destroying and undermining businesses and opportunities in their own communities that rob jobs and opportunity from people in that area.”

President Barack Obama speaks about recent unrest in Baltimore during a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Tuesday, April 28, 2015, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

President Barack Obama speaks about recent unrest in Baltimore during a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Tuesday, April 28, 2015, in the Rose Garden of the White House. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Obama called the actions of the mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland, including calling up the National Guard to patrol the city streets, “entirely appropriate” to “stop that kind of senseless violence and destruction.”

“That is not a protest, that is not a statement, it’s people, a handful of people, taking advantage of a situation for their own advantage, and they need to be taken as criminals,” Obama said.

But he said that since the events of Ferguson, Missouri, last summer, “We have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals, primarily African-American, often poor, in ways that raise troubling questions.

“It comes up, it seems like, once a week, or once every couple of weeks. So I think it’s pretty understandable why the leaders of civil rights organizations, but more importantly, moms and dads across the country would start saying this is a crisis,” Obama said.