Quotes of the day

President Obama on Monday announced executive actions to curb “simmering mistrust” between local police departments and minority communities, pledging that his push for more body cameras on cops and greater oversight of the use of military weapons by officers would ensure “this time will be different.”

Obama is calling for a three-year, $263 million spending package that would fund 50,000 new body cameras for police officers. That funding request must be approved by Congress.

The president will also issue an executive order calling on law enforcement agencies to better track the surplus, military-style weapons they receive from the government and bolster training for those using the the equipment…

“This time will be different,” Obama said. “Part of the reason this time will be different is because the president of the United States is deeply invested in making sure that this time is different.”


[H]e then sat down with elected officials, law enforcement officials and community, civil rights and faith leaders from around the nation to discuss ways to “build trust” between communities and law enforcement. That meeting included the mayors of Boston, Mass., Milwaukee, Wisc., New York, N.Y., Gary, Ind. and Philadelphia, Pa, as well as representatives from a number of police organizations and both the Baltimore and Philadelphia police departments.

The Rev. Al Sharpton was in attendance as well, along with representatives from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Council of La Raza, the American Civil Liberties Union and others.

Sharpton called it an “historic evening,” and said he came away with the sense that the president and the administration are putting their weight behind their groups’ recommendations. He did caution, however, that this meeting cannot be “an isolated incident” and needs to be followed by action.


In the weeks after Brown’s death, numerous law-enforcement agencies around the U.S. began experimenting with body cameras. Anaheim, Calif.; Denver; Miami Beach; Washington, D.C.; and even Ferguson have all begun outfitting officers with cameras or announced plans to start. The movement Brown’s family called for the night Wilson was cleared has actually been growing since the day their son was killed…

“The big question is not whether or not agencies will adopt body-worn cameras but the sorts of policies that will be put into place to monitor and control the use of this new technology,” says Victor Thompson, an expert in race and crime at Rider University in New Jersey.

For instance, Thompson says a camera that can be easily turned on and off at the discretion of an officer may be of little value because it would allow that officer to control what’s ultimately being recorded and fail to provide the kind of transparency activists are calling for. Other experts advocate establishing rules about how and when the cameras are used along with clear protocols for review of video footage and sanctions against officers if they fail to comply…

“In 10, 15 years,” Lurigio says, “I think we’ll be talking about the camera in the way that today we talk about the baton or the badge.”


[M]onths later, the chaotic 1033 program — which sends surplus military gear built for combat to local police forces with little oversight — hasn’t changed at all

Police groups rallied around 1033, scaring off many potential supporters, according to staff involved with moving the issue forward on the Hill. Police lobbyists argue that the equipment provided by 1033 keeps officers safe and keeps them prepared to deal with terrorist attacks and other threats.

“We got a lot of pushback we got from law enforcement,” said one Republican staffer involved in the militarization debate. The police lobby spread “misunderstanding” about the congressional efforts, which were by this point generally united in banning only the deadly equipment from 1033 while leaving the rest of the program largely in place…

“With the exception of Paul I’m not sure this leads to a change in militarization on a local police level,” Balko said. “The Republicans in the ’90s were very concerned about the militarization of the ATF because they were going after gun owners. But that never translated into concern about militarization of local police going after minorities.”


White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the president concluded he does not want to try to repeal the programs that are authorized by Congress because they have proven to be useful in many cases, citing the response to the Boston Marathon bombing. “But it is not clear that there is a consistency with regard to the way that these programs are implemented, structured and audited, and that’s something that needs to be addressed,” Earnest said…

Obama said he will issue an executive order that will require federal agencies that run the programs to consult with law enforcement and civil rights and civil liberties organizations and recommend changes within four months to make sure the programs are accountable and transparent.

“We’re going to make sure that we’re not building a militarized culture inside our local law enforcement,” Obama said. He said the goal instead is to ensure that “crime goes down while community trust in the police goes up.”


Distrust of Obama among white voters could have cost him the presidency had it not been for the surge in support among America’s black and brown minorities that carried him to office.

Today, many of those supporters are disappointed at his cautious stance on race, and many have demanded that he make the trip to Ferguson to hear for himself about the problems there

“It’s a very fine line, but he is managing this line very astutely,” said long-time civil rights activist Julian Bond, president emeritus of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“He has done exactly what he should have done, has said exactly what he should have said,” Bond said. “He has an aversion to being the ‘black president’. He wants to be president of all Americans.”


Patrick, a long-time all of Obama, told NBC he thinks that the president wants to go to Ferguson “to comfort the family of Michael Brown who are having to relive this tragedy all over again and to reassure both the community at large and the community of law enforcement.”

While Attorney General Eric Holder has visited Ferguson, Patrick said it’s different for a president.

“You still don’t want to appear — I think, as president — to influence that investigation,” the Massachusetts governor said.


In his 967-word statement to the nation about the Ferguson grand jury decision on Tuesday night, President Obama devoted precisely one sentence to the risks and sacrifices police officers make to keep the peace…

Mr. Hope and Change stayed silent about the lynch-mob instigators calling for Wilson to be shot and his family murdered.

And while the uniter-in-chief has given several public shout-outs to Brown and his family, he has delivered no special national address addressing the families of police officers ruthlessly targeted by domestic terrorists and racist radicals.

Obama used his bully pulpit this week to bemoan the “real issues” of discrimination by some police officers. But he said nothing about the murderous strain of racial animus against America’s men and women in blue.


President Obama betrayed the nation last night. Even as he went on national television to respond to the grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting 18-year-old Michael Brown in August, the vicious violence that would destroy businesses and livelihoods over the next several hours was underway. Obama had one job and one job only last night: to defend the workings of the criminal-justice system and the rule of law. Instead, he turned his talk into a primer on police racism and criminal-justice bias. In so doing, he perverted his role as the leader of all Americans and as the country’s most visible symbol of the primacy of the law…

“We have made enormous progress in race relations,” Obama conceded. “But what is also true is that there are still problems and communities of color aren’t just making these problems up. . . . The law too often feels like it’s being applied in a discriminatory fashion . . . these are real issues. And we have to lift them up and not deny them or try to tamp them down.” To claim that the laws are applied in a discriminatory fashion is a calumny, unsupported by evidence. For the president of the United States to put his imprimatur on such propaganda is bad enough; to do so following a verdict in so incendiary a case is grossly irresponsible. But such partiality follows the pattern of this administration in Ferguson and elsewhere, with Attorney General Eric Holder prematurely declaring the Ferguson police force in need of wholesale change and President Obama invoking Ferguson at the United Nations as a manifestation of America’s ethnic strife…

This misinformation about the criminal-justice system and the police will increase hatred of the police. That hatred, in turn, will heighten the chances of more Michael Browns attacking officers and getting shot themselves. Police officers in the tensest areas may back off of assertive policing. Such de-policing will leave thousands of law-abiding minority residents who fervently support the police ever more vulnerable to thugs.


If problems of lingering racism exist in America, then those problems should be addressed, and few Americans are better positioned to do so than Obama. But, if the Ferguson events can’t be attributed to racism, then they shouldn’t be used to spearhead discussions on any broader problem—and certainly shouldn’t be used in ways that could exacerbate racial tensions in Ferguson.

The president added to all this with his characteristic tendency to patronize people out in the country grappling with difficult situations, whom he seems to presume need his peculiarly sound counsel from a higher plane of wisdom. “I also appeal to the law enforcement officials in Ferguson and the region,” said the president, “to show care and restraint in managing peaceful protests that may occur….As they do their jobs in the coming days, they need to work with the community, not against the community, to distinguish the handful of people who may use the grand-jury’s decision as an excuse for violence. Distinguish them from the vast majority who just want their voices heard around legitimate issues in terms of how communities and law enforcement interact.”

Two points emerge here: First, since when do law enforcement officials in Ferguson or anywhere else in America need presidential admonitions to refrain from working against their own communities? Second, and more important, you have to wonder where Obama gets his idea that, when riots begin, law enforcement can carefully isolate out the violent ones while benignly countenancing peaceful demonstrations. The lack of realism here is stunning…

By conflating events in Ferguson with broader matters of race relations, he attached himself, however unwittingly, to unfolding events in Ferguson.



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Jazz Shaw 9:21 AM on February 08, 2023