US President Barack Obama has made his first comments about death of Freddie Gray and following riots in Baltimore saying the United States “has to do some soul searching.”
Obama’s comments about the death of 25-year-old black man in police custody and last night’s riots came in answer to a reporter’s question during a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the White House, where the first black president of the US gave a very long answer, saying he “felt pretty strongly about it.”
Obama gave his answer in six main points starting with his condolences to the Gray family for their loss.
“I think there are police departments that have to do some soul searching. I think there are some communities that have to do some soul searching. But I think we, as a country, have to do some soul searching,” Obama said towards the end of his remarks.
Obama drew attention to the social and economic roots of the problem of violence and discrimination against the minorities and urged the community to focus on that for a solution saying “We can't just leave this to the police.”
“If we are serious about solving this problem, then we're going to not only have to help the police, we're going to have to think about what can we do -- the rest of us -- to make sure that we're providing early education to these kids; to make sure that we're reforming our criminal justice system so it’s not just a pipeline from schools to prisons.”
The US has been a scene to a series of protests following the death of black Americans in the hands of the police starting with the fatal shooting of unarmed Michael Brown (19), which triggered days of protests and riots in Ferguson, where the incident happened, and spread to other cities.
In the last year protests followed deaths of black people such as Eric Garner and Walter Scott among many others.
“There’s some police who aren’t doing the right thing,” Obama said referencing to the findings of a task force formed after the Ferguson shooting to investigate the practices of police in the area.
“Ferguson’s police and municipal court practices both reflect and exacerbate existing racial bias, including racial stereotypes,” a US department of Justice report said after examining the working of law enforcement officials in Ferguson, Missouri.
However, Obama condemned violence and looting in Baltimore last night saying “There’s no excuse for it.
“When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they’re not protesting, they’re not making a statement -- they’re stealing. When they burn down a building, they’re committing arson.”
Baltimore mayor’s office said firefighters had to deal with fires on 144 vehicles and 15 buildings.
Police department said 20 officers were injured two of them are still in hospital, while 235 people were arrested.