Misconduct among Ferguson cops ‘not an isolated incident,' says Obama
In the wake of an explosive federal investigation into the Ferguson Police Department, President Barack Obama says concerns raised by the Department of Justice are not unique to the St. Louis, Missouri suburb.
“I don’t think that is typical of what happens across the country but it's not an isolated incident,” Obama told satellite radio host Joe Madison in an interview with the “Urban View” program that aired on Friday this week.
“I think there are circumstances in which trust between communities and law enforcement have broken down, and individuals or entire departments may not have the training or the accountability to make sure that they are protecting and serving all people and not just some,” the president said.
Obama’s remarks were recorded on Thursday afternoon, “Urban View” confirmed to RT, a day after the DOJ announced the results of two probes concerning the Ferguson, MO police.
Darren Wilson, the ex-Ferguson cop who shot and killed an unarmed teen last August, will not be charged with any civil rights violations, the DOJ said on Wednesday. However, at the same time, investigators said that a separate probe of the city’s law enforcement practices initiated in the aftermath of the teen’s death unearthed “a pattern or practice of unlawful conduct,” including routine constitutional violations.
“This emphasis on revenue has compromised the institutional character of Ferguson’s police department, contributing to a pattern of unconstitutional policing, and has also shaped its municipal court, leading to procedures that raise due process concerns and inflict unnecessary harm on members of the Ferguson community,” the DOJ said on Wednesday.
According to the department’s findings, Ferguson police have disproportionately targeted African Americans so much so that the DOJ determined that the cop’s approach “reflects and reinforces racial bias, including stereotyping.”
Speaking in the wake of the report’s release, Obama that said his administration is committed to doing more to ensure that civil rights and civil liberties are protected with respect to law enforcement, at the same time remaindering radio listeners that the United States has made great strides nonetheless in those fields over the past few decades.
“This isn't ancient history, and I worry sometimes that our kids, black or white, they are in a classroom where they see the ‘I have a dream’ speech during black history month and they kind of think that this is something that happened way back in the past,” Obama said in reference to Dr. Martin Luther King’s iconic 1963 address on civil rights. “This is something that happened within my lifetime.”
The civil rights movement, Obama said, “didn't just open door for black folks, it wasn't just about black folks, it was about America.”
Later on Friday, the president remarked on the Ferguson situation from Selma, Alabama where police officers infamously assaulted civil rights protesters 50 years earlier. Speaking there, the president called the police’s conduct "oppressive and abusive” and urged the city to make improvements.
"Are they going to enter into some sort of agreement with the Justice Department to fix what is clearly a broken and racially biased system?" Obama said, according to the Associated Press.