Obama: Many Police Officers Have ‘Subconscious Fear of Folks Who Look Different’

Obama: Many Police Officers Have ‘Subconscious Fear of Folks Who Look Different’

President Barack Obama said many police officers have a “subconscious fear” of people “who look different,” which is a “national problem that will require national solutions.” 

In an interview with BET about race relations, Ferguson and Eric Garner’s death in which Obama said that racism and bias are “deeply rooted” in America, Obama said “consequences can be deadly” when people are not being treated fairly. 

Obama, who said he understood why demonstrators were angry when a Ferguson grand jury decided there was not enough evidence to indict officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of strong-arm robbery suspect Michael Brown, said that the vast majority of law enforcement officials have difficult jobs and “most of them are doing it well.” 

But he cited a “combination of bad training” in addition to police departments that “are really not trying to root out biases or tolerate sloppy police work” as contributing factors to people of color being treated unfairly by cops. Obama also said that people are treated unfairly sometimes because of police officers “just not knowing any better.” He also said that “in a lot of cases,” police officers have a “subconscious fear of folks who look different.” 

Obama said that race relations in America are better than they were 50 years ago in a country that has a “history and legacy of people not being treated fairly.” But regarding policing, Obama said, “we’re going to have more conversations about this” because it is a “national problem that will require some national solutions.”


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