President Barack Obama called for calm in Ferguson, but he also spiked media coverage by announcing that Attorney General Eric Holder would visit the town on Wednesday a part of a new civil rights investigation.
He distanced himself from the crisis by saying he could not prejudge investigations of the Aug. 9 shooting of a young black man by a white cop. But he also thrust himself closer to the dispute by choosing to make his statement from the press room in the White House, instead of delegating the issue to local or federal law-enforcement officials.
Throughout his 15 minute appearance, he portrayed himself as a cautious moderate while he sequentially pandered or reassured multiple demographic groups whose support he needs to help Democrats win the November midterm election, now only 10 weeks away.
The dispute began with the Aug. 9 shooting of an African-American youth, Michael Brown shortly after he robbed a convenience store.
The shooting has been followed by several nights of rioting and looting, by the withdrawal and then the return of paramilitary policing, and by the arrival of various political entrepreneurs, including Rev. Al Sharpton.
In his extended triangulation, Obama sought to reassure suburbanites by criticizing the rioters who have looted and vandalized shops, but he also pandered to local African-American demonstrators and rioters by making repeated criticisms of the local police force.
“There is no excuse for excessive force by police or any action that denies people the right to protest peacefully,” he said.
He acknowledged the rioting and looting, but he excused the African-American community which failed to control its young men. “What is also clear is that a small minority protestors are… giving in to [their] anger by looting or by carrying guns,” he said. “That undermines rather than advances justice,” he declared.
He recognized suburbanites’ worries about the high crime-rate among African-Americans, saying “there are young black men that commit crime… [and] if they commit a crime, they need to be prosecuted because every community has no interest in public safety”
But then he immediately pandered to African-Americans communities by suggesting that African-Americans’ crimes were “a consequence of tragic histories… [because African-Americans youths] find themselves isolated, without hope, without economic prospects.”
“In too many communities around this country, young men of color are left behind and seen as objects of fear,” said Obama.
But their criminal activities may be caused by outsiders who impose racial disparities in school punishments and in trials, Obama suggested.
He did not mention actual disparities in crime rates. For example, his administration has published data showing that young black men between the ages of 14 and 24 are only 1 percent of the population, but commit 27 percent of murders.
Obama even tried to entangle Latinos in the crisis by suggesting at least twice they are victimized by state police forces.
There’s no evidence that Latinos are involved in the Ferguson meltdown, but Obama needs them to vote in November.
Obama did not call for the quick completion of investigations, or the quick release of information, that might help locals understand the shooting incident.
So far, Obama’s deputies objected to the release of a video which shows the dead young man robbing a store shortly before the fatal shooting.
But media reports say other information is being held back. That information includes records of the dead man’s juvenile criminal record, and hospital pictures of the police officer’s face after he was treated for injuries possible caused by Brown at the start of their deadly meeting.
Last July, Obama gave a similar back-and-forth response about the shooting of another African-American youth, Trayvon Martin, by George Zimmerman, a Latino who was repeatedly described as white by the media.
“Now, this isn’t to say that the African-American community is naive about the fact that African-American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system, that they are disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence,” he said. (RELATED: Obama Blames Racism, Guns For Zimmerman Acquittal)
In that speech, be suggested that young black males were treated unfairly by society.
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