In a deeply personal response to outbreaks of racially motivated protests, President Barack Obama on Monday blamed a lack of opportunity in minority communities and harsher treatment of black and Hispanic men by police for fueling a sense of “unfairness and powerlessness.”
The country’s first black president called for a nationwide mobilization to reverse inequalities and said the cause will remain a mission for the rest of his presidency and his life. “There are consequences to indifference,” Obama said.
Helping launch a foundation to assist young minorities, Obama said the catalysts of protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and in Baltimore were the deaths of black young men and “a feeling that law is not always applied evenly in this country.”
But he said a broader sense of hopelessness is at the root of the periodic eruptions in poor communities.
“We ask police to go into communities where there is no hope,” he said. “Eventually, something happens because of the tension between society and these communities, and the police are just on the front lines of that.”
The new organization, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, is an outgrowth of Obama’s year-old My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which has focused on federal government policies and grants designed to increase access to education and jobs.