President Barack Obama said the type of racial discrimination found in Ferguson’s police department is not unique to the Missouri city where a white officer killed an unarmed black 18-year-old.
America’s first black president cast law enforcement reform as a chief struggle for today’s civil rights movement.
Obama said improving civil rights and civil liberties with police is one of the areas that “requires collective action and mobilization” 50 years after pivotal civil rights marches brought change to the country.
The president made his first remarks about this week’s Justice Department report of racial bias in Ferguson, which found officers routinely discriminating against blacks by using excessive force.
“I don’t think that is typical of what happens across the country, but it’s not an isolated incident,” Obama told The Joe Madison Radio Show on Sirius XM radio’s Urban View channel. “I think that there are circumstances in which trust between communities and law enforcement have broken down, and individuals or entire departments may not have the training or the accountability to make sure that they’re protecting and serving all people and not just some.”
The Justice Department on Wednesday cleared Darren Wilson, the white former Ferguson officer who shot Brown, of federal civil rights charges in the shooting.
But a separate report released simultaneously found patterns of racial profiling, bigotry, and profit-driven law enforcement and court practices in the city that has come to represent the tension between minorities and American police nationwide.
Obama’s interview was to preview his trip Saturday to Selma, Alabama, where he plans to speak from the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where white police officers beat civil rights protesters on March 7, 1965. Obama last visited Selma in 2007, when he was running for the Democratic presidential nomination and spoke about the responsibility of those who came after the civil rights generation of the ’60s to carry on the struggle.
Story compiled with information from The Associated Press.