President Barack Obama says his message to Ferguson, Missouri, as it awaits a grand jury's decision in this summer's fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man is to keep protests peaceful.

Obama says everyone has the right to express their views and to peacefully assemble to protest actions they think are unjust.

But he says using any event as an excuse for violence is contrary to the rule of law.

Obama commented in an interview with ABC News that's scheduled to air on Sunday. The network released his comment about Ferguson on Friday night.

A grand jury is deciding whether to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. The incident sparked days of sometimes violent protests in the St. Louis suburb.