‘Barack Obama sitting on the fence between racists and victims of police abuse’

A demonstrator is detained during protests in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S., July 10, 2016. © Shannon Stapleton
The White House has to take a specific position against racism, against racial profiling and against the prison industrial complex inside the US before the problem of police abuse can change, the editor of Pan-African News Wire Abayomi Azikiwe told RT.

In Dallas, Texas, dozens of protesters were detained Saturday night. Police faced the demonstrators with armored vehicles and tear-gas.

On Thursday, the city was shocked by a shooting that unfolded during a Black Lives Matter protest and claimed the lives of five police officers. The suspected shooter was identified as a 25-year-old army reservist who had spent almost a year in Afghanistan.

RT: After all this escalation, Barack Obama declared “the country is not as divided as some consider.” What is your take on that statement?

Abayomi Azikiwe: I think he is still avoiding the issue of the burgeoning division inside the US between law enforcement agencies and the African-American as well as the Latino community. The situation has worsened since he has been in office. His policy has been to avoid any specific or direct programs that relate to African-American affairs inside the US. He has said this since 2009. And if you look at, and evaluate his comments, he doesn’t want to take a side. You can’t be both with the racists, repressive police forces, and at the same time acknowledge that African-Americans are being disproportionally targeted for racial profiling, for arrest, for brutality and outright murder. And that is the reality of the situation and that is why you have hundreds of thousands of young African-Americans, Latinos and White people of good will marching through the streets in every major city throughout the US over the last several days.   

RT: President Obama has had to address the issues of racism and police brutality multiple times throughout his terms in office. Do you think he has delivered on his promise to curb the violence?

AA: Nothing has been done. He comes out when he is forced to make a comment. For example, two years ago when the rebellions erupted in Ferguson, he was forced because many foreign newspaper editorials were written questioning this illusion of America becoming a post-racial society. These newspaper editorials that are being put out by countries, for example, like Germany, which is supposed to be an ally of the US, and even they recognized the hypocrisy that governs domestic policy here in the US. So, there has been no initiative, no executive orders, nothing has been done. They went to Ferguson two years ago to do an investigation surrounding the death of Michael Brown. Also the systematic racial profiling and targeting for citations and imprisonment of African-Americans. And the government came out with a report last year called ‘The Ferguson Report’ which documented open collusion through emails, telephone calls, memorandum suggesting that African-Americans were specifically being targeted by these law enforcement agencies to raise money and also to fuel the prison industrial complex. And despite all this data and all this evidence the Justice Department said that there were no grounds for filing any criminal charges against the police, against the courts and against the prosecutorial agencies within St. Louis County. And it is the same situation which that is taking place in Baltimore and so many other cities where the Justice Department gets involved in these investigations; nothing comes out of it and police continue with impunity to carry out this method of lethal force.

RT: Not so long ago body cameras for police officers to wear were introduced. However, this innovation hasn't yet been introduced across the whole country. In your opinion, what other ideas could be implemented to bring more transparency to the police force in the US?

AA: The Department of Justice has to take action. The US Congress has to do something. The White House has to get off the fence and take a specific position against racism, against racial profiling and I think against the prison industrial complex inside the US. We have seen that it doesn’t matter if you have documented video evidence. Diamond Reynolds, the companion of the gentleman who was killed, Philando Castile, right outside of Minneapolis, it was live streamed over Facebook  and yet this person has not been arrested. So they are doing this with absolute impunity. They are telling the African-American people inside the US, and all people inside the US, that the agents of these various law enforcement entities around the country can exercise lethal force without probable cause and in 99.9 percent of the cases there are no consequences.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.