President Obama issued a matter-of-fact (read: awful) speech after news broke that Darren Wilson would not face charges for the murder of Michael Brown. Progress seemed to be the focus of Obama’s somber speech as he attempted to ease the pain of a nation of Brown supporters who wanted nothing more than to see justice be served. But here’s the biggest issue–President Obama may just need to stop talking about race relations or police brutality because that speech…we could have done without.
First, President Obama got some obligatory housekeeping out to the way and urged the crowd not to get angry and violent in reaction to Darren Wilson getting away with murder: “Michael Brown’s parents have lost more than anyone. We should be honoring their wishes,” President Obama stated. The Brown family urged the public not to react violently to the news, whichever way it went and to focus on leading a “positive change.”
Then, President Obama spoke directly to law enforcement and Brown supporters who are angry over the grand jury’s decision:
“I appeal to the law enforcement officials in Ferguson and in the region to show care and restraint in managing peaceful protests that may occur. Our police officers put their lives on the line for us every single day. They have a tough job to do to maintain safety and hold accountable those who break the law. 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 from the vast majority who just wants their voices heard around legitimate issues in terms of how communities and law enforcement interact.”
Ok, so the people of Ferguson should allow the police to do their jobs, yes that is definitely the way to go. Darren Wilson was just doing his job when Michael Brown died, right? The next couple of days are sure to be tough in Ferguson. Tensions are running high and as President Obama spoke, small fires erupted in the streets of Ferguson, tear gas was thrown, protestors were reported to have been throwing bottles and so much more. We’re hurt but this grand jury decision. Obviously President Obama couldn’t deliver a speech that chastised overzealous policemen, but couldn’t he have given us more than he did?
Darren Wilson got away with murder and President Obama stuttered, stumbled and tried his best to maintain positivity while focusing on the faux progress he thinks we’re making as a country, even though these streets look a lot more like Selma 1965 than Ferguson 2014. Of “progress,” President Obama said:
“We have made enormous progress in race relations over the course of the past several decades. I have witnessed that in my own life. To deny this progress is to deny America’s capacity for change.”
And finally, we’re faced with what should have been the foundation of the speech: race relations. President Obama tap danced around this major issue of race and left us empty:
“There are still problems. Communities of color aren’t just making these problems up. Separating that from this particular decision, there are issues in which the law too often feels as if it’s being applied in a discriminatory fashion. We need to recognize that the situation in Ferguson speaks to broader challenges that we still face as a nation. The fact is that in too many part of this country, a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color. Some of this is the result of the legacy of racial discrimination in this country. This is tragic because nobody needs more policing than poor communities with higher crime rates.
There are issues in which the law too often feels as if its being applied in a discriminatory fashion. These are real issues. We have to lick them up and not deny them, understand them and how we make more progress. That wont’t be done by throwing bottles, smashing car windows, using this as an excuse to vandalize property and it certainly won’t be done by hurting somebody.”
President Obama rounded out his speech that barely said anything to let us know there’s hope in he and Attorney General Eric Holder will be working with the cities all over the country to build better relations between communities and law enforcement. He claims that includes training that will ensure law enforcement is being fair to everyone. Now President Obama is calling for criminal justice reform. Well yeah, that’s definitely something that needs to be handled.
Let us not forget that it took President Obama nine full days before he even addressed that Michael Brown’s death was an issue for America. Nine days. Ferguson is President Obama’s Vietnam and his sheer lack of passion around the tragedy is disheartening. This was and is a time where we need him the most. We need him to show up. President Obama’s first Ferguson speech hid behind the bigger pink elephant in the speech: ISIS. And in that speech, President Obama didn’t offer anything, accept to tell the people of Ferguson not to loot and react violently. And after President Obama was asked by a member of the press if he would go to Ferguson, President Obama said, “We will see…” Not that we want him on the next thing smokin’ to Ferguson, but it feels like he wants to distance himself from this entire situation.
Let us leave you with this hopeful (read: hopeless) quote from our president’s speech following Darren Wilson’s lack of an indictment:
“A vast majority of the community has been working very hard to try and make sure that this becomes an opportunity for us to seize the moment and turn this into a positive situation. We have to make sure that we focus at least as much attention on all those positive activities are taking place.”
What is he talking about? *Sigh* We’re not so sure about this speech. What do you think beauties?