In this clip from the Rose Garden, President Obama addresses the riots in Baltimore, expressing his displeasure with the violence but also a nuanced appeal for our nation to do “some soul searching” and confront the underlying problems that have created the anger and frustration that are currently being taken out on West Baltimore police cars:
“In communities where there are no fathers who can provide guidance to young men; communities where there’s no investment, manufacturing has been stripped away. Drugs have flooded the city and the drug trade has become the primary employer for a whole lot of folks. If we think we’re going to send police to do the dirty work of containing the problems that arise there — without as a nation and society saying what can we do to change those communities, to help lift up communities, and give those kids opportunity — then we’re not going to solve this problem,”
If we are serious about solving this problem, then we’re going to not only have to help the police, we’re going to have to think about what can we do — the rest of us — to make sure that we’re providing early education to these kids; to make sure that we’re reforming our criminal justice system so it’s not just a pipeline from schools to prisons; so that we’re not rendering men in these communities unemployable because of a felony record for a nonviolent drug offense; that we’re making investments so that they can get the training they need to find jobs…
But if we really want to solve the problem, if our society really wanted to solve the problem, we could. It’s just it would require everybody saying this is important, this is significant — and that we don’t just pay attention to these communities when a CVS burns, and we don’t just pay attention when a young man gets shot or has his spine snapped. We’re paying attention all the time because we consider those kids our kids, and we think they’re important. And they shouldn’t be living in poverty and violence.”
It’s a theme we’ve heard echoed around the more intellectually minded media outlets today, those who aren’t busy “looping the same footage of a burning building”. The President’s message cannot be stressed enough. He took the time to chastise his Republican Congress for their inevitable refusal to make any progress on this; instead, the Republican agenda would rather slash education, medical, and urban development and keep the working families of America crippled by poverty and disenfranchisement forever.
Watch it here:
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.