Obama: Police Treat Blacks, Latinos Differently in Too Many Places in this Country

Monday at Lehman College in the Bronx at an event for My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, President Barack Obama said, “In too many places in this country, black boys and black men, Latino boys and Latino men — they experience being treated differently by law enforcement.”

Partial transcript as follows:

Opportunity gaps begin early, often at birth and compound over time. Becoming harder and harder to bridge, making too many young men and women feel no matter how hard they try, they may never achieve their dreams. That sense of unfairness and powerlessness of people not hearing their voices, that’s helped fuel the protests we’ve seen in places like Baltimore and Ferguson and right here in New York. The catalyst of those protests were the tragic deaths of young men and feeling that law is not always applied evenly in this country.”

In too many places in this country, black boys and black men, Latino boys and Latino men, they experience being treated differently by law enforcement and stops and in arrests and in charges and incarcerations. The statistics are clear, up and down the criminal justice system. There’s no dispute.

In addressing the issues in Baltimore or Ferguson or New York, The point I made was that if we’re just looking at policing, we’re looking at it too narrowly. If we ask the police to simply contain and control problems that we ourselves have been unwilling to invest and solve, it’s not fair to the communities and not fair to the police. What we gathered here to talk about today is something that goes deeper than policing. It speaks to who we are as a nation and what we’re willing to make sure that equality of opportunity and not an empty word. across the country and in parts of New York, parts of New Jersey and my own town of Chicago, There are communities that don’t have enough jobs and enough opportunity.

You’ve got communities with 30 or 40 or 50% unemployment. They’ve been struggling long before the economic crisis of 2007, 2008. Communities without enough role models. Communities where too many men who could otherwise be leaders, who could provide guidance for young people and be good fathers and neighbors and fellow citizens are languishing in prison over minor nonviolent drug offenses. There’s no shortage of people telling you who and what is to blame for the plight of these communities. But I’m not interested in blame. I’m interested in responsibility and I’m interested in results.

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