WASHINGTON (AP) — Urging Americans to “do some soul-searching,” President Barack Obama expressed deep frustration Tuesday over recurring black deaths at the hands of police, rioters responding with senseless violence and a society that will only “feign concern” without addressing the root causes.

“This is not new. It’s been going on for decades,” Obama said from the White House a day after rioting erupted 40 miles north in Baltimore following the funeral for Freddie Gray, who died of a spinal cord injury after being arrested.

Gray is the latest black man to die at the hands of police, prompting protests and calls for criminal justice reform. Some have criticized America’s first black president for not speaking out forcefully enough as he tries to avoid criticism of law enforcement, and he responded by calling the deaths “a slow-rolling crisis.”

“We have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals, primarily African-American, often poor, in ways that raise troubling questions. It comes up, it seems like, once a week now,” Obama said. He said although such cases aren’t unprecedented, there’s new awareness as a result of cameras and social media. “We shouldn’t pretend that it’s new.”

Still, Obama showed no sympathy for rioters, saying those who stole from businesses and burned buildings and cars should be treated as criminals. Obama said they distracted from days of peaceful protests focused on legitimate concerns “over the possibility that our laws were not applied evenly in the case of Mr. Gray and that accountability needs to exist.”

“There’s no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday,” Obama said. “It is counterproductive. When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they’re not protesting, they’re not making a statement, they’re stealing.”

But he also criticized a society that doesn’t do enough to uplift poor minority communities. He said the solution to deep-seeded problems that spur violence include early education, criminal justice reform and job training, while suggesting that kind of a response is out of reach with a Republican Congress. “I’m under no illusion that out of this Congress we’re going to get massive investments in urban communities,” Obama said.

“It’s too easy to ignore those problems or to treat them just as a law-and-order issue as opposed to a broader social issue,” Obama said.

The president spoke during a state visit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, at one point apologizing to his guest for taking nearly 15 minutes of their news conference to discuss it. “I felt pretty strongly about it,” he said.

Obama said America should not just pay attention to these communities “when a CVS burns” or when “a young man gets shot or has his spine snapped.” He said he can’t force police departments across the country to retrain their officers, but he can work with them and help pay for body cameras to improve accountability.

“In those environments, if we think that we’re just going to send the police to do the dirty work of containing the problems that arise there, without as a nation and as a society saying what can we do to change those communities, to help lift up those communities and give those kids opportunity, then we’re not going to solve this problem,” he said. “And we’ll go through the same cycles of periodic conflicts between the police and communities and the occasional riots in the streets. And everybody will feign concern until it goes away and then we go about our business as usual.”

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(Photo: AP)

28 thoughts on “President Obama: Too Many Troubling Police Interactions with Blacks

  1. Black America, ask yourselves this: What has Obama done for you? It appears to me he is more interested in assisting illegal aliens become citizens, getting illegals jobs and benefits, more than he is in helping black people. He is taking the black community for granted. He knows blacks are going to vote democratic and for black candidates almost 100% of the time.

  2. with the sworn in of the new top law enforcement officer lynch,she will put forward heavy measures which will end the ongoing killing of african americans and police brutality.frank mushinji ,zambia

  3. with the sworn in of the new top law enforcement officer lynch,she will not do much of talk talk but of do do well this will end the ongoing killing african americans and police brutality.frank mushinji ,zambia

  4. jules on said:

    We are HEADED FOR A CIVIL WAR RIGHT HERE IN AMERICA AND ALL OF THOSE WHO WILLINGLY SPREAD THEIR HATRED TOWARDS BLACKS CAN THANK THEMSELVES FOR THE TURMOIL THIS COUNTRY WILL BE IN. Young blacks don’t see any HOPE WHICH IS DANDEROUS BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE

  5. jules on said:

    Anyone who thinks it is ok to treat BLACKS POORLY OR TO KILL THEM UNLAWFULLY SHOULD BE IMPRISONED FOR THE THOUGHT. LETS BE CLEAR WHITES ARE MORE VIOLENT THAN BLACKS , THEY COMMIT ALL MASS MURDERS AND IS THE PRIMARY SUSPECT FOR ALL SERIAL KILLING IN AMERICA. The police in AMERICA (MOST OF THEM) ARE UNEDUCATED THUGS WHO SHOULD Never be given a gun and coupled with RACISM MAKES IT DEADLY FOR BLACKS

  6. ambientbake on said:

    We don’t need police reform, we need American-Afrikans to behave like humans and start showing respect and have personal responsibility.

  7. Patricia Williams on said:

    The focus should not be on the riots it should be on the killings the riots those ppl alright they have insurance but when a parent lose a child that’s a problem especially if that child life as been taken from him in hatred lord fix it Mr. President Obama we black ppl need help they are killing up all our black brothers and no one cares what if it’s one of yours are mine next it could happen God forbid but we got to do something it’s a must!!!!!!!!!!! Talking not helping

  8. Karen on said:

    Things happen in this country because they are allowed to happen people wake up. Has anyone seen Happy Feet? Remember the old penguins that were in charge that didn’t want change and nearly caused the devastation of their entire penguin population? They were small-minded and stuck in old ways of doing things that no longer served the penguins they were elected to serve. Well, am I the only one that can see the problem here? The catalyst is not the police people it’s Congress. Does no one realize that we have the same elected officials, many of which have been in office since Jim Crow, still sitting their rusty butts,spouting the same racially divisive and outdated viewpoints making laws for us. They also have the power to veto laws that would benefit people who don’t look like them or those who look like them but come from the other side of the tracks. The problem is A Congress who will not cosign any legislation that will properly address the Root Cause that would allow our country to be in this shameful predicament. What is the root cause, poverty and all of the ugliness that goes with it. The USA is two societies, the haves and the have nots and as long as people are frustrated and broke there are going to be problems in this country. Congress needs to have Term Limits, just like the president and the other branches of government. Until we get these dinosaurs out of office, nothing will change. We need new energy…

    • Karen,
      Wow! I wish I could have said it better, but you summoned it up in a nutshell!

      Thanks for speaking the truth and making note of the REAL problem!

      It is my hope and prayer that enough people pay attention to your comment and take note, and then vote – in EVERY election and not just the presidential election.

  9. Honestly on said:

    These cave n!@@ers kill their own children so killing Nubian people is no big deal to them. These neanderthal apes are a curse upon humanity. Karma is going to bite the sh!t out of them. They should have never been let out of the caves of Europe.

    • Meech on said:

      You white people are delusional! You enslave and murder half the world, create and spread diseases, create and spread drugs, then sit on a high horse like you’re innocent. Research your history, maybe us Black Moors wouldn’t be in our situations if we had left you crackers in the caves of Europe and stayed on our thrones in Kemet (what you call Egypt).

      If you think you whites are innocent and superior, ask the Africans during the crusades, the Native Americans when you “discovered” America, Iraqis about the oil (or WMDs), inner city blacks about the origins of drugs, Africans about blood diamonds, the last can go on…

      In other words, shut the hell up if you’re not taking about finding a solution now.

      • Chris on said:

        Meech, who sold Africans into the slave trade? Other Africans. If you had left us crackers in the caves, tell us what would be different today. Stop copping out, stop blaming everyone else.

        You want a solution? Stay in school, don’t be afraid of “acting white,” get a job, respect each other, speak properly, pull your pants up, stop relying on the government, take responsibility for your actions, put down the race card deck.

  10. Kenny Hallam on said:

    I am sorry to hear that Freddie Gray was killed while in police custody and can positively say this was totally wrong and should be dealt with. I am sorry that the news is only showing the negative which is the rioters and not the larger number of people that are peacefully protesting. It is only right and fair highlighting them also because they are the majority. I know there are those people that only want to hear about the negative and brush past anything in the media that does not go with their agenda. That being said we cannot have it one way. I also know the media and many others do not want to share or hear about the thousands of police officers that daily go above and beyond to protect everyone. They do not want to share this because they are also are the majority and it does not line up with their agenda. I know the majority of law enforcement understand what they are allowed to do and do not step outside their boundaries. I believe most law enforcement look at everyone the same way no matter what color they are and would be willing to die for any of them. These thousands of law enforcement are also the norm and they too deserve to be highlighted.

  11. This country also knows had black police officers been killing white men and boys, there would be a national “outcry,” not to mention the black police officers would be fired and in jail. And, there would be “swift” prosecution! “What Goes Around, Does Come Around, white America.

  12. No kates1221 your jungle justice statement falls under “white America’s” atrocities treatment of black people for decades….Example, “cutting a baby out of a black woman’s stomach,” once the baby fell, the baby was stomped to death by white folks. This is one example out of a countless of your jungle justice. Police brutality will come to a halt one day soon in God’s Justice.

  13. Linda on said:

    I totally agree with the speech the Prez made however, he needed to add-PIGS need to have respect for the residents/communities they serve. All of these killings by cops could’ve been avoided if they had built a rapport with the African-American community.

    This needs to happen in all urban areas of Amerykah or else these killings as well as folks killing cops will continue.

    Law enforcement needs to be seriously re-trained. There need to be other methods implemented in how to resolve conflicts in the “hoods” besides shooting/killing people.

    If White cops have a problem policing urban areas and only see the residents as animals or sub-human-they need to be DISMISSED from the police force or placed in a lilly White neighborhood where they will no doubt feel more comfortable.

    Watching the riots in Ferguson last summer and now in Baltimore brings back memories of the riots in the 1960’s. Repeating history-never is kool-that’s why they call it HISTORY!!!!!!

  14. And, Black MALES need to step up to the plate; MAN-UP, and take lead, and show some responsibility for leading our community in the right direction. For the record we already have (some) males doing this……BUT NOT NEARLY ENOUGH. Time out for all the talk, talk, talk, and instead time for some SOLID ACTION. Quite honestly please don’t bring anymore commentary from Al, Jessie, Tavis, nor Cornell. They’ve all being saying/regurgitating the same shigady for years!!

  15. One of the best speeches President Obama has ever made. It truly is going to take a village to remedy these numerous HUGE problems, and it starts with parents, and then filters out to society overall. He touched on so many valid points. I’ve said it B4, and I’ll say it again; time out for all the BS talking points with no solutions, and actions put into play.

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