U.S. President Barack Obama has condemned the police in the Missouri city of Ferguson for “oppressive and abusive” actions against African-Americans and called for criminal justice reform as part of the modern struggle for civil rights.
“What we saw was that the Ferguson Police Department, in conjunction with the municipality, saw traffic stops, arrests, tickets as a revenue generator as opposed to serving the community, and that it systematically was biased against African-Americans in that city who were stopped, harassed, mistreated, abused, called names, fined,” Mr. Obama said in his remarks in South Carolina.
“Then it was structured so that they would get caught up in paying more and more fines that they couldn’t afford to pay or were made difficult for them to pay, which raised the amount of additional money that they had to pay. And it was an oppressive and abusive situation,” said the U.S. President.
The President’s comments came as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Friday dismantling the police department was a possibility.
The Justice Department said it found that the mostly white police force routinely targeted African-Americans for arrests and ticketing in part to raise revenue for the city through fines and fees.
“Come let us build a new world together. That’s the story of America. That’s why immigrants came here — the idea of building a new world together — not just settling on what is, but imagining what might be. Insisting we live up to our highest ideals, our deepest values,” Mr. Obama said.
“We all know we still have work to do. We’ve got to ensure not just the absence of formal, legal, oppression, but the presence of an active, dynamic opportunity. Good jobs that pay good wages; a good start for every child; health care for every family; a higher education that prepares you for the world without crippling you with debt; a fairer and more just legal and criminal justice system,” he said.