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Barack Obama Has 3 Suggestions For Ending Police Brutality

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Former President Barack Obama has some suggestions for government leaders responding to anti-police brutality protests sweeping the United States.

When Obama spoke earlier this week, he voiced support for protesters and called for nonviolence. Today, he addressed mayors and county representatives directly.

"Let me begin by acknowledging that although all of us have been feeling pain, uncertainty, disruption, some folks have been feeling it more than others," Obama said, speaking at a remote town hall hosted by his organization, the Obama Foundation.

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He said he and former first lady Michelle Obama were grieving and praying for the families of people killed by police. He also said the disruption and tragedies of the past few weeks — and months — offer an opportunity to awaken more people to structural problems in our society. He cited disparities in policing as well as health outcomes, which he said the COVID-19 pandemic has "thrown into high relief."

"They're the outcomes not just of the immediate moments in time, but they're the result of a long history of slavery and Jim Crow and redlining and institutionalized racism that too often have been the plague, the original sin, of our society."

Obama said he was heartened to see members of law enforcement march alongside protesters, and to see those who showed restraint and who listened.

He believes local governments can immediately take three steps to improve their response on these issues:

  • Enact the reforms recommended by the 21st Century Policing task force, which his administration commissioned in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting and subsequent protests in Ferguson, Missouri.
  • Have mayors and county leaders review their use-of-force policies with members of the community and report on their planned reforms.
  • Every city should become a My Brother's Keeper community, an initiative launched by the Obama administration to address the lack of opportunities for boys and young men of color.

Obama also cited a couple of organizations as resources:

Obama joined a panel discussion about these issue. You can watch the video above.
Panelists:

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  • Brittany Packnett Cunningham — activist, writer, educator
  • Phillipe Cunningham — Minneapolis city council member
  • Playon Patrick — My Brother's Keeper youth leader
  • Eric Holder — former U.S. attorney general
  • Rashad Robinson — president, Color of Change

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