Several weeks ago we witnessed days and days of protests, riots and looting in Ferguson, Missouri as a result of a police officer shooting and killing a black teenager, an event that is still under investigation.
Worldwide media was dispatched to report conditions in the town for more than a week. The New Black Panthers, the Nation of Islam and the Reverend Al Sharpton were all part of the mess and Mr. Obama later dispatched the Department of Justice, AG Eric Holder to be a part of the dialogue to restore peace to the town of Ferguson. Holder meet with many people including the parents of the deceased Michael Brown.
The FBI in a unit of 40 was also deployed to Ferguson to investigate all the variables in the town. Upon leaving Eric Holder opened his own investigation into the shooting and added a full investigation into the local police department.
Calm was restored, or was it?
On the evening of September 27, there was a ‘Light the Night’ vigil in Ferguson but it did not end well. One police officer was shot in the arm on normal patrol and another was shot at and was injured due to flying glass. Several arrests were made and the condition in Ferguson remains tense.
While the ‘Light the Night’ vigil was occurring, Barack Obama attended a Congressional Black Caucus Awards Event and spoke about the matter in Ferguson even after he included yet more faults of America as noted by Ferguson at this United Nations speech earlier in the week.
However, what is most shocking are the words Mr. Obama spoke last night at the awards event even as Michael Brown’s parents were invited and did attend.
“But we still have to close these opportunity gaps. And we have to close the justice gap — how justice is applied, but also how it is perceived, how it is experienced. (Applause.) Eric Holder understands this. (Applause.) That’s what we saw in Ferguson this summer, when Michael Brown was killed and a community was divided. We know that the unrest continues. And Eric spent some time with the residents and police of Ferguson, and the Department of Justice has indicated that its civil rights investigation is ongoing.
Now, I won’t comment on the investigation. I know that Michael’s family is here tonight. (Applause.) I know that nothing any of us can say can ease the grief of losing a child so soon. But the anger and the emotion that followed his death awakened our nation once again to the reality that people in this room have long understood, which is, in too many communities around the country, a gulf of mistrust exists between local residents and law enforcement.
Too many young men of color feel targeted by law enforcement, guilty of walking while black, or driving while black, judged by stereotypes that fuel fear and resentment and hopelessness. We know that, statistically, in everything from enforcing drug policy to applying the death penalty to pulling people over, there are significant racial disparities. That’s just the statistics. One recent poll showed that the majority of Americans think the criminal justice system doesn’t treat people of all races equally. Think about that. That’s not just blacks, not just Latinos or Asians or Native Americans saying things may not be unfair. That’s most Americans.
And that has a corrosive effect — not just on the black community; it has a corrosive effect on America. It harms the communities that need law enforcement the most. It makes folks who are victimized by crime and need strong policing reluctant to go to the police because they may not trust them. And the worst part of it is it scars the hearts of our children. It scars the hearts of the white kids who grow unnecessarily fearful of somebody who doesn’t look like them. It stains the heart of black children who feel as if no matter what he does, he will always be under suspicion. That is not the society we want. It’s not the society that our children deserve. (Applause.) Whether you’re black or white, you don’t want that for America.
It was interesting — Ferguson was used by some of America’s enemies and critics to deflect attention from their shortcomings overseas; to undermine our efforts to promote justice around the world. They said, well, look at what’s happened to you back home.
But as I said this week at the United Nations, America is special not because we’re perfect; America is special because we work to address our problems, to make our union more perfect. We fight for more justice. (Applause.) We fight to cure what ails us. We fight for our ideals, and we’re willing to criticize ourselves when we fall short. And we address our differences in the open space of democracy — with respect for the rule of law; with a place for people of every race and religion; and with an unyielding belief that people who love their country can change it. That’s what makes us special — not because we don’t have problems, but because we work to fix them. And we will continue to work to fix this.
And to that end, we need to help communities and law enforcement build trust, build understanding, so that our neighborhoods stay safe and our young people stay on track. And under the leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder, the Justice Department has launched a national effort to do just that. He’s also been working to make the criminal justice system smarter and more effective by addressing unfair sentencing disparities, changing department policies on charging mandatory minimums, promoting stronger reentry programs for those who have paid their debt to society. (Applause.)”
Now, will Mr. Obama attend the UN Assembly again this week as it comes to a close and provide the world an update on Ferguson that Eric Holder failed to restore calm and two police officers were victims of the protestors? Will Mr. Obama make any statement about those officers at all? Nah, not likely as it is Eric Holder who opened an investigation into the whole police force in Ferguson….just another day in middle America perhaps.