Although there is a growing chorus of voices looking to paint the Black Lives Matter movement as an anti-police campaign or disregarding of other races and cultures, most folks with sense know better. President Barack Obama boldly defended Black Lives Matter on Thursday, lending even more political credence to the group and movement.
President Obama’s statement was made on a panel on the criminal justice system and its reform, featuring Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado. It was billed as an “Arm Chair Discussion on Criminal Justice with Law Enforcement Leaders.”
Bill Keller, the editor-in-chief of the criminal justice digital journalism group Marshal Project, was the moderator.
From the Marshal Project report:
“The African-American community is not just making this up…It’s real and there’s a history behind it,” the president said. “I think the reason that the organizers use the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ was not because they were suggesting nobody else’s lives matter. Rather, they were suggesting that there is a specific problem that is happening in the African-American community that is not happening in other communities.”
Obama’s assessment of the country’s historical struggle with race and current debates over policing included references to his own experiences: “As a young man, there have been times where I was driving and I got stopped and I didn’t know why.”
At the same time, the president urged the public not to blame law enforcement for the country’s high incarceration rate — which disproportionately affects black communities — by explaining that the “problem of racial justice or injustice in society has been a running theme in this country’s history for a very long time.” He noted that historically black communities have also dealt with “under-policing,” and “everybody wants strong, effective law enforcement.”
Watch the Marshal Project panel featuring President Barack Obama in the video clip below.
Photo: Yahoo! News/The Marshal Project