California Governor Jerry Brown spoke for the first time Friday about the police brutality protests that have consumed the Bay Area and cities across the country in recent weeks.
Brown, who had long declined to comment about the protests, said at a press conference at the Capitol that he had recently reviewed the Kerner Report, a 1968 report commissioned by President Lyndon Johnson to look into the causes of the 1967 race riots in America, and that it taught him “a lot” about “the divisions in our society, the racial disparities and divisions,” reports The Sacramento Bee.
“I’d say we’ve made progress, but we still have issues, and these expressions … on the part of people in Oakland and all over the country, it’s a feeling that there’s a lot to be done,” Brown said. “That’s a concern of mine.”
Following grand juries’ decisions not to indict the police officers involved in the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, protests broke out in Oakland and Berkeley, where demonstrators shut down freeways, smashed windows, and even vandalized the city Christmas tree in Jack London Square just before the holiday.
After one such protest in November, reporters outside an environmental forum in Oakland asked Gov. Brown for comment. “I’m here to talk about climate change,” Brown repeatedly told reporters, according to the Huffington Post.
“Our office is, of course, keeping a close eye on these events and we’ll keep you posted,” Brown’s communication director, Evan Westrup, told HuffPo at the time.
Brown served as mayor of Oakland from 1999-2007.