President Barack Obama talks with paralympic athletes at the U.S. Olympic Training Facility in Colorado Springs, Colo., Aug. 9, 2012. Broadcast of the gold medal ceremony for the U.S. Olympic women’s soccer team plays on the TV in the background. Photo by Pete Souza
DeRay McKesson: Ferguson And Beyond: How A New Civil Rights Movement Began – And Won’t End
Mike Brown should be alive today. He should be home from his first year at college, visiting friends and enjoying summer as he prepares to return to campus. The movement began one year ago as Brown’s body lay in the street of Canfield Drive here in Ferguson, Missouri, for four and a half hours. It began as the people of St Louis came out of their homes to mourn and to question, as the people were greeted by armed and aggressive officers. In the past year, the movement has focused primarily on police violence that can be seen and its impact, centered on broken bodies and death. But the police are violent in ways that cannot always be seen – the violence against the hearts, minds and souls of black folk. We must begin to address the sexual and emotional violence inflicted upon us by the police, too. We must begin to address the assaults on our self-worth and potential, too.
Beyond Ferguson: how a new civil rights movement began – and how we will win | DeRay McKesson trib.al/ZhdaOQO
Naming this violence means one thing: the police and the state must change. It is not our job to shift the skin and identities into which we were born. It is up to systems of law enforcement, and the systems and structures that sustain its presence, to change. As much as this fight is about systems and structures, it is also a fight about hearts and minds. We will work hard to teach people that the safety of communities is not predicated on the presence of police – that safety is a more expansive notion than policing. Safety is strong schools, access to jobs, workforce development and access to healthcare, among many other things. The solution-work will likely fall into two separate but critically related areas: removing barriers, and building and rebuilding. There is much to be done to tear down systems and structures that oppress people, like mandatory minimum sentencing, broken-windows policing and police contracts that provide officers with protections that ensure they will never be held accountable for the crimes they commit.
President Barack Obama talks on the phone with President François Hollande of France in the Oval Office, Aug. 9, 2014. Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama looks back towards a group of students before signing H.R. 1911, the “Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013,” in the Oval Office, Aug. 9, 2013. Photo by Pete Souza
Members of the audience listen as President Barack Obama delivers remarks on higher education and the economy at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas, Aug. 9, 2010. Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama walks to the podium on the South Lawn of the White House to deliver a statement on Iraq, Aug. 9, 2014. Photo by Amanda Lucidon
President Barack Obama, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon, second from left, and governor Emilio Gonzalez, right, walk across the main courtyard at the the Cabanas Cultural Center during the North American Leaders’ Summit in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Aug. 10, 2009. Photo by Pete Souza
Paralympic swimmer Michael Prout watches as President Barack Obama signs a board for athletes during a visit to the U.S. Olympic Training Facility in Colorado Springs, Colo., Aug. 9, 2012. Photo by Pete Souza
There is no pleading ignorance about nooses. When you use a noose against a Black person, everyone knows what you mean. Everyone one knows the threat, violence, and racism it represents. Everyone knows that you are terrorizing Black people
President Barack Obama is welcomed by US Ambassador to China Max Baucus upon his arrival at Beijing Capital Airport in Beijing, China. President Obama is in China to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2014 Summit
President Barack Obama meets with the leaders of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries in Beijing
President Barack Obama speaks during a bilateral meeting with Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo
President Barack Obama meets with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott
President Barack Obama speaks at the APEC CEO Summit at the China National Convention Centre (CNCC) in Beijing
Delegates use their smartphones to take pictures of President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama walks to the stage with Dow Chemical Co. President, Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris, at the APEC CEO Summit at the China National Convention Centre (CNCC)
President Barack Obama with China’s President Xi Jinping and Xi’s wife Peng Liyuan during the APEC Welcome Banquet at Beijing National Aquatics Center, or the Water Cube, in Beijing
President Barack Obama is greeted by China’s Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong, as he arrives at Beijing National Aquatics Center, or the Water Cube, for the APEC Welcome Banquet
Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah (L-R), Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, his wife Peng Liyuan and U.S. President Barack Obama arrive for a dinner hosted by the Chinese President
President Barack Obama and South Korean President Park Geun-hye talk as they depart the APEC Summit family photo
Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) nations’ leaders and spouses pose for a family photo at Beijing National Aquatics Center, or the Water Cube, in Beijing, November 10, 2014. (Front row L to R) Vietnam’s President Truong Tan Sang, Angelica Rivera and husband Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto, Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet, Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Philippine President Benigno Aquino, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, China’s President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo and his wife Iriana Widodo, U.S. President Barack Obama, South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye, Peru’s President Ollanta Humala, Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha and his wife Naraporn; (Back row L to R) Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, Bronagh Key and her husband New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key, Akie and her husband Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Laureen Harper and her husband Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor, Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his wife Lynda May Babao, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching, Taiwanese envoy to APEC summit Vincent Siew and his wife Susan Chu
(Excerpts from his remarks, as provided by the Justice Department)
“We have seen a great deal of progress over the years. But we also see problems and these problems stem from mistrust and mutual suspicion.
I just had the opportunity to sit down with some wonderful young people and to hear them talk about the mistrust they have at a young age.
These are young people and already they are concerned about potential interactions they might have with the police.
I understand that mistrust.
I am the Attorney General of the United States, but I am also a black man. …I think about my time in Georgetown — a nice neighborhood of Washington — and I am running to a picture at about 8 o’clock at night. I am running with my cousin.
Police car comes driving up, flashes his lights, yells, ‘Where you going? Hold it!’ I say, ‘Whoa, I’m going to a movie.’
Now my cousin started mouthing off; I’m like, ‘This is not where we want to go. Keep quiet.’
I’m angry and upset.
We negotiate the whole thing and we walk to our movie.
At the time that he stopped me, I was a federal prosecutor. I wasn’t a kid. I was a federal prosecutor.
I worked at the United States Department of Justice.
So I’ve confronted this myself.
We are starting here a good dialogue. But the reality is the dialogue is not enough. We need concrete action to change things in this country. That’s what I have been trying to do. That’s what the President has been trying to do.
We have a very active Civil Rights Division. I am proud of what these men and women have done. As they write about the legacy of the Obama administration, a lot of it is going to be about what the Civil Rights Division has done.
So this interaction must occur. This dialogue is important. But it can’t simply be that we have a conversation that begins based on what happens on August 9, and ends sometime in December, and nothing happens.
As I was just telling these young people, change is possible. The same kid who got stopped on the New Jersey freeway is now the Attorney general of the United States.
So, Jake Tapper got a bunch of praise for his reporting from Ferguson last night.
Twitter was waxing lyrical about him.
Why? Mainly because he described what he was witnessing.
It struck me that when we start commending any member of today’s MSM for simply reporting what their eyes are seeing, it’s a hell of a sign of how little we expect from them.
In fairness, he editorialized too, which was the main reason for the praise:
“Nobody is threatening anything. Nobody is doing anything. None of the stores here that I can see are being looted. There is no violence.”
“These are armed police. With machine – not machine guns- semiautomatic rifles, with batons, with shields, many of them dressed for combat. Now why they’re doing this, I don’t know. Because there is no threat going on here. None that merits this.”
“There is nothing going on on this street right now that merits this scene out of Bagram. Nothing. So if people wonder why the people of Ferguson, Missouri are so upset, this is part of the reason. What is this? This doesn’t make any sense.”
Yes, we’ve been hearing and reading reporting similar to – and often way more powerful than this – mainly of the citizen kind, since the day Michael Brown was murdered, but better late than never from someone in the MSM.
Are you sensing a but?
It’s a big one, too.
CNN’s coverage from Ferguson all last night was intermingled with repeated references to Tapper’s Woodward and Bernstein-esque scoop: that a NEW version of events, that differed from that of the witnesses, had emerged!1!1!
(ie Darren Wilson’s version of events – Well, blow me down! – although they chose not to highlight that inconvenient snippet of info)
CNN kept reminding us, all through the night, of this ‘bombshell’:
It wasn’t a scoop, of course. Tapper had simply picked up on a call by a ‘Josie’ to Dana Loesch’s show (that ‘Josie’ chose to call Loesch says it all, really) when she said she was a friend of Wilson and had his version of events.
So, that’s all it was – repeat: a friend of the cop who shot an unarmed Michael Brown six times, twice in the head, was passing on what he himself said had happened.
But this is how Tapper hyped it on Twitter:
No mention of the caller being a friend of Wilson who was simply passing on his version of events.
Transcript of the President remarks on the situation in Ferguson
Earlier this afternoon, I spoke with Governor Nixon as well as Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill. I also met with Attorney General Eric Holder.
The Justice Department has opened an independent federal civil rights investigation into the death of Michael Brown. They are on the ground and along with the FBI, they are devoting substantial resources to that investigation.
The attorney general himself will be travelling to Ferguson on Wednesday to meet with the FBI agents and DOJ personnel conducting the federal criminal investigation and he will receive an update from them on their progress.
He will also be meeting with other leaders in the community who’s support is so critical to bringing about peace and calm in Ferguson.
Ronald Davis, the director of the DOJ’s Office of Community- oriented Policing Services, or COPS, is also traveling to Ferguson tomorrow to work with police officials on the ground. We’ve also had experts from the DOJ’s community relations service, working in Ferguson since the days after the shooting to foster conversations among the local stake holders and reduce tensions among the community.
So, let me close just saying a few words about the tensions there. We have all seen images of protesters and law enforcement in the streets. It’s clear that the vast majority of people are peacefully protesting. What’s also clear is that a small minority of individuals are not.
While I understand the passions and the anger that arise over the death of Michael Brown, giving into that anger by looting or carrying guns, and even attacking the police only serves to raise tensions and stir chaos. It undermines rather than advancing justice.
Let me also be clear that our constitutional rights to speak freely, to assemble, and to report in the press must be vigilantly safeguarded: especially in moments like these. There’s no excuse for excessive force by police or any action that denies people the right to protest peacefully.
Ours is a nation of laws: of citizens who live under them and for the citizens who enforce them. So, to a community in Ferguson that is rightly hurting and looking for answers, let me call once again for us to seek some understanding rather than simply holler at each other. Let’s seek to heal rather than to wound each other.
As Americans, we’ve got to use this moment to seek out our shared humanity that’s been laid bare by this moment. The potential of a young man and the sorrows of parents, the frustrations of a community, the ideals that we hold as one united American family.
I’ve said this before. In too many communities around the country, a gulf of mistrust exists between local residents and law enforcement. In too many communities, too many young men of color are left behind and seen only as objects of fear. And through initiatives like My Brother’s Keeper, I’m personally committed to changing both perception and reality. And already, we’re making some significant progress, as people of good will of all races are ready to chip in. But that requires that we build, and not tear down. And that requires we listen, and not just shout. That’s how we’re going to move forward together — by trying to unite each other and understand each other, and not simply divide ourselves from one another. We’re going to have to hold tight to those values in the days ahead. And that’s how we bring about justice, and that’s how we bring about peace.
QUESTION: The incident in Ferguson has led to a discussion about whether it’s proper to militarize the nation’s city police forces. And I’m wondering whether you wonder, or if you think that — you see that as a factor regarding the police response in Ferguson. And also, do you agree with the decision by the governor to send in the National Guard?
PRESIDENT: Well, I think one of the great things about the United States has been our ability to maintain a distinction between our military and domestic law enforcement. That helps preserve our civil liberties. That helps ensure that the military is accountable to civilian direction. And that has to be preserved.
After 9/11, I think understandably a lot of folks saw local communities that were ill-equipped for a potential catastrophic terrorist attack. And I think people in Congress, people of good will, decided we gotta make sure they get proper equipment to deal with threats that historically wouldn’t arise in local communities.
And some of that’s been useful. I mean, some law enforcement didn’t have radios that they could operate effectively in the midst of a disaster. Some communities needed to prepared if in fact there was a chemical attack, and they didn’t have hazmat suits.
Having said that, I think it’s probably useful for us to review how the funding has gone, how local law enforcement has used grant dollars, to make sure that what they’re — what they’re purchasing is stuff that they actually need. Because, you know, there is a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement, and we don’t want those lines blurred. That would be contrary to our traditions.
And I think that there will be some bipartisan interest in reexamining some of those programs.
With respect to the National Guard, I think it’s important just to remember, this was a state-activated National Guard, so it’s under the charge of the governor. This is not something that we initiated at the federal level.
I spoke to Jay Nixon about this, expressed an interest in making sure that if in fact the National Guard is used, it is used in a limited and appropriate way. He described the support role that they’re gonna be providing to local law enforcement. And I’ll be watching over the next several days, to assess whether, in fact, it’s helping rather than hindering progress in Ferguson.
ANN COMPTON: Let me ask you. This is an interesting time in your presidency …. and one of the things that you have so emphasized in the last few months, the last year or so, is this reach-out to Brothers — My Brother’s Keeper and to a generation that doesn’t feel that it has much chance. Sending the attorney general to Ferguson is a step. Has anyone there asked you, or have you considered going yourself? Is there more that you personally can do, not just for Ferguson, but for communities that might also feel that kind of tension and see it erupt in the way it has in Ferguson?
PRESIDENT: Well, Ann, obviously, we’ve seen events in which there’s a big gulf between community perceptions and law enforcement perceptions around the country. This is not something new. It’s always tragic when it involves the death of someone so young. I have to be very careful about not prejudging these events before investigations are completed. Because, although these are, you know, issues of local jurisdiction — you know, the DOJ works for me. And then when they’re conducting an investigation, I’ve got to make sure that I don’t look like I’m putting my thumb on the scales one way or the other.
So, it’s hard for me to address a specific case, beyond making sure that it’s conducted in a way that isn’t (ph) transparent, where there’s accountability, where people can trust the process, hoping that, as a consequence of a fair and just process, you end up with a fair and just outcome.
But, as I think I’ve said in some past occasions, part of the ongoing challenge of perfecting our union has involved dealing with communities that feel left behind, who, as a consequence of tragic histories, often find themselves isolated, often find themselves without hope, without economic prospects.
You have young men of color in many communities who are more likely to end up in jail or in the criminal justice system than they are in a good job or in college.
And, you know, part of my job, that I can do, I think, without any potential conflicts, is to get at those root causes.
Now, that’s a big project. It’s one that we’ve been trying to carry out now for a couple of centuries. And we’ve made extraordinary progress, but we have not made enough progress.
And so, the idea behind something like My Brother’s Keeper is can we work with cities and communities and clergy and parents and young people themselves, all across the country, school superintendents, business, corporations, and can we find models that work, that move these young men on — on a better track?
Now part of that process is also looking at our criminal justice system to make sure that it is upholding the basic principle of everybody’s equal before the law.
And — and one of the things that we’ve looked at during the course of where we can make — during the course of investigating where we can make a difference is that there’re patterns that start early.
Young African American and Hispanic boys tend to get suspended from school at much higher rates than other kids, even when they’re in elementary school. They tend to have much more frequent interactions with the criminal justice system at an earlier age.
Sentencing may be different. How trials are conducted may be different.
And so, you know, one of the things that we’ve done is to include Department of Justice in this conversation under the banner of my brother’s keeper to see where can we start working with local communities to inculcate more trust, more confidence in the criminal justice system.
And — and I want to be — I want to be clear about this because sometimes I think there’s confusion around these issues and this dates back for — for decades.
There are young black men that commit crime. And — and — and we can argue about why that happens because of the poverty they were born into or the lack of opportunity or the school systems that failed them or what have you, but if they commit a crime, then they need to be prosecuted because every community has an interest in public safety.
And if you go into the African American community or the Latino community, some of the folks who are most intent on making sure that criminals are dealt with are people that have been preyed upon by them.
So, this is not an argument that there isn’t real crime out there and that law enforcement doesn’t have a difficult job. And you know, that they — you know, they have to be honored and respected for the danger and difficulty of law enforcement. But what is also true is that given the history of this country, where we can make progress in building up more confidence, more trust, making sure that our criminal justice system is acutely aware of the possibilities of disparities in treatment, there are safeguards in place to avoid those disparities where, you know, training and assistance is provided to local law enforcement who, you know, may just need more information in order to avoid potential disparity. All those things can make a difference.
One of the things I was most proud of when I was in the state legislature, way back when I had no grey hair and none of you could pronounce my name was, you know, I passed legislation requiring videotaping of interrogations and confessions. And I passed legislation dealing with racial profiling in Illinois.
And in both cases, we worked with local law enforcement. And the argument was that you can do a better job as a law enforcement official if you have built up credibility and trust. And there’s some basic things that can be done to promote that kind of trust, and you know, in some cases, it’s just a lack of information. And we want to make sure that we get that information to law enforcement.
So, there are things that can be done to improve the situation, but short term, obviously, right now what we have to do is make sure that the cause of justice and fair administration of the law is being brought to bear in Ferguson. In order to do that, we’ve got to make sure that we are able to distinguish between peaceful protesters who may have some legitimate grievances, and maybe longstanding grievances, and those who are using this tragic death as an excuse to engage in criminal behavior and tossing Molotov cocktails or looting stores. And that is a small minority of folks, and it may not even be residents of Ferguson, but they are damaging the cause. They are not advancing it.