President Barack Obama said Saturday that the shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo. last month exposed the “gulf of mistrust” that exists between law enforcement and local residents in many communities.
Speaking at the Congressional Black Caucus awards dinner, the President said that the shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer in the St Louis suburb “awakened our nation once again to the reality that people in this room have long understood, which is, in too many communities around the country, a gulf of mistrust exists between local residents and law enforcement.”
Statistically, the President noted, blacks in the United States are targeted at a substantially higher rate than whites in their cars and on the street, and more likely to get the death penalty. “Too many young men of color feel targeted by law enforcement, guilty of walking while black, or driving while black, judged by stereotypes that fuel fear and resentment and hopelessness.”
“And that has a corrosive effect—not just on the black community; it has a corrosive effect on America,” Obama continued.
To reverse the widening gap between minority communities and the people who police them, said Obama, “we need to help communities and law enforcement build trust, build understanding, so that our neighborhoods stay safe and our young people stay on track.”
Obama’s remarks Saturday came nearly two months after the shooting of Brown sparked a week of sometimes violent protests in Ferguson and outrage around the country at the local police’s handling of the situation.
You can read the speech below: