Reacting to the decision by the grand jury in Ferguson not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown, President Obama’s message last night was clear: It’s understandable to be angry, but please don’t break anything.
“There are Americans who agree with (the decision), and there are Americans who are deeply disappointed, even angry,” Obama said. “It’s an understandable reaction.”
What, exactly, in the view of someone who is the president of the United States, should be understandable about protests in a case where there was so little incriminating evidence, not only was the subject in question innocent, but he couldn’t even be charged?
For Obama, the problem here is that African Americans don’t trust the police. He said:
So those should be the lessons that we draw from these tragic events. We need to recognize that this is not just an issue for Ferguson, this is an issue for America. We have made enormous progress in race relations over the course of the past several decades. I’ve witnessed that in my own life. And to deny that progress I think is to deny America’s capacity for change.
But what is also true is that there are still problems and communities of color aren’t just making these problems up. Separating that from this particular decision, there are issues in which the law too often feels as if it is being applied in discriminatory fashion. I don’t think that’s the norm. I don’t think that’s true for the majority of communities or the vast majority of law enforcement officials. But these are real issues. And we have to lift them up and not deny them or try to tamp them down. What we need to do is to understand them and figure out how do we make more progress. And that can be done . . .
And I am confident that if we focus our attention on the problem and we look at what has happened in communities around the country effectively, then we can make progress not just in Ferguson, but in a lot of other cities and communities around the country.
Actually, here is the problem: A young man, Michael Brown, who might have made a success out of himself, instead one August evening decided to rob a store and then assault Officer Darren Wilson, battering hm in the head, possibly with the intent to kill him. He then lost his life because of his own actions.
That’s the problem.
What’s more, a young policeman’s life and career have been damaged or ruined in irreparable ways.
I have no doubt that what Obama says is true, that there is mistrust of white police in black communities, and that sometimes the law is applied in a discriminatory fashion. Such behavior must always be prevented and, when a crime and the evidence for it exists, prosecuted. But police malfeasance is, as Obama himself states, a non-issue for “the vast majority of law enforcement officials.”
The problem is the culture that exists in too much of the black community. Obama, as the nation’s first black president, should be leading a discussion about what to do to effect change within the black community, not throwing in with the racial grievance crowd that blames police for doing their jobs.
There was not one mention in his remarks of the tragedy that there is so much crime where African Americans live. Where children have to dodge gunfire and the elderly take risks with a walk to the drug store. If there were there less crime in the communities, tensions with police, white or black, would surely decline.
More than anything, Obama should be pursuing economic policies that would abet such change. But unfortunately he doesn’t believe in them.