Last night at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Awards dinner, President Obama addressed a topic that has become a growing nationwide issue: the mistrust of law enforcement in black communities.
“In too many communities around this country, there is a gulf of mistrust that exists between local residents and law enforcement,” said President Obama. “It makes folks who are victimized by crime and need strong policing reluctant to go to the police because they may not trust them.”
In his admonishment of U.S. law enforcement, the Associated Press reports President Obama blames the feeling of wariness on persistent racial disparities in the administration of justice saying this has had a “corrosive effect on the nation, particularly on its children.”
President Obama’s speech on the mistrust of law enforcement comes on the heals of escalated protests in Ferguson, Missouri and a recent ban spearedheaded by the U.S. Justice Department to bar Ferguson police from wearing ‘I Am Darren Wilson’ bracelets after a number of Ferguson residents said they found the sportswear to be offensive and insensitive in light of the recent shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
“The widespread mistrust of law enforcement that was exposed by the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man in Missouri exists in too many other communities,” said the President on the death of Brown. “And the worst part of it is it scars the hearts of our children,” Obama said.
“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,” said Obama, who too spoke of experiencing racial profiling as a young man.
The President also announced the addition of a “community challenge” element to My Brother’s Keeper, a public-private partnership he launched earlier this year to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color. Communities across the U.S. will be challenged to adopt strategies to help all young people succeed from the cradle through to a career.