Dr. Ben Carson, who's close to announcing a presidential campaign, responded to the unrest in Baltimore in an interview with CBSN Tuesay.
Carson said he was "pleased to see a number of responsible citizens" had joined protesters and were trying to "create separation between the police and those who are perhaps immature in their actions to keep it from escalating. That's the Baltimore I know."
Carson sees the violence over the past couple of days not as a result of racial tension, but rather, of poverty. "[W]henever you find a situation when you have a concentration of people and a lot of poverty, I don't think it's going to matter that much what their race is," Carson said. There are, he continued, basic economic issues that have to be reckoned with, "providing people with the mechanism to climb out of a state of dependency and provide real hope."
Earlier, in a statement Tuesday, he condemned the perpetrators, saying, "As a former resident of the city of Baltimore, it is very unfortunate to see the destruction taking place by irresponsible individuals."
Carson, a well-known neurosurgeon, worked in Baltimore for years. He arrived as a resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1977, and was later named chief of pediatric neurosurgery, a position he held for 29 years. In his statement, he also urged parents and grandparents "to please take control of your children and do not allow them to be exposed to the dangers of uncontrolled agitators on the streets."
Carson is expected to announce whether he's running for president on May 4.
CBS News' Jenna Gibson contributed to this report.