Remember what it was like to have a REAL President in office?
Not one that would cut the lights off at The White House and run to his bunker.
#USAonFire: Trump hid in a bunker, ordered the White House to go dark and a citywide blackout in fear of his own citizens who are asking for justice for #GeorgeFloyd. What kind of President is that? #dcblackouts #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/NWtYh0ZJmy
— Lu (@Lucie008) June 1, 2020
Former President Barack Obama posted a statement due to the current wave of protest and police violence shaking our nation while also celebrating peaceful protesters and calling for fundamental reform of America’s police forces.
Obama’s first major point is that the protesters resorting to violence are a small group; the vast majority are peaceful protesters coming out to demonstrate against severe and ongoing injustice:
First, the waves of protests across the country represent a genuine and legitimate frustration over a decades-long failure to reform police practices and the broader criminal justice system in the United States. The overwhelming majority of participants have been peaceful, courageous, responsible, and inspiring. They deserve our respect and support, not condemnation — something that police in cities like Camden and Flint have commendably understood.
On the other hand, the small minority of folks who’ve resorted to violence in various forms, whether out of genuine anger or mere opportunism, are putting innocent people at risk, compounding the destruction of neighborhoods that are often already short on services and investment and detracting from the larger cause. I saw an elderly black woman being interviewed today in tears because the only grocery store in her neighborhood had been trashed. If history is any guide, that store may take years to come back. So let’s not excuse violence, or rationalize it, or participate in it. If we want our criminal justice system, and American society at large, to operate on a higher ethical code, then we have to model that code ourselves.
Obama explains who decides to investigate those that are involved in police:
It’s mayors and county executives that appoint most police chiefs and negotiate collective bargaining agreements with police unions. It’s district attorneys and state’s attorneys that decide whether or not to investigate and ultimately charge those involved in police misconduct. Those are all elected positions. In some places, police review boards with the power to monitor police conduct are elected as well. Unfortunately, voter turnout in these local races is usually pitifully low, especially among young people — which makes no sense given the direct impact these offices have on social justice issues, not to mention the fact that who wins and who loses those seats is often determined by just a few thousand, or even a few hundred, votes.
While Obama is specific about creating change at the local level, Trump is treating the protests as an opportunity to exploit widespread fear for his reelection campaign:
Finally, the more specific we can make demands for criminal justice and police reform, the harder it will be for elected officials to just offer lip service to the cause and then fall back into business as usual once protests have gone away. The content of that reform agenda will be different for various communities.
A big city may need one set of reforms; a rural community may need another. Some agencies will require wholesale rehabilitation; others should make minor improvements. Every law enforcement agency should have clear policies, including an independent body that conducts investigations of alleged misconduct. Tailoring reforms for each community will require local activists and organizations to do their research and educate fellow citizens in their community on what strategies work best.
Let’s mobilize and bring awareness but also cast our ballots to really bring the change we want to see in our communities.