President Obama Addresses Baltimore Riots on The Steve Harvey Morning Show: 'Police Need to Build More Trust'
"The kind of violence that we saw from a handful of individuals in Baltimore – there's no excuse for that," Obama said
“Unfortunately we’ve seen these police-related killings or deaths too often now, and obviously everybody is starting to recognize that this is not just an isolated incident in Ferguson or New York, but we’ve got some broader issues,” Obama told host Steve Harvey on the radio show.
“The kind of violence that we saw from a handful of individuals in Baltimore – there’s no excuse for that,” he said. “That’s just criminal behavior. It’s counter-productive because it hurts the very communities that are already suffering a tragedy with Freddie Gray’s death.”
Gray died after suffering a spinal injury while in police custody earlier this month. His family called for an end to the horrific violence, which saw rioters setting fire to buildings across Baltimore on Monday evening. “Instead what you got is focus on a CVS burning,” Obama said. “People who engage in that kind of violence, it needs to stop.”
He added: “My hope is that people heed the call of Freddie Gray’s family.”
Obama went on to say that it’s important for all communities, not just Baltimore, to address these problems in a serious way. “This is not just a job for the Justice Department; it’s a job for all of us as a society.”
While he commended the police officers who have helped quell the unrest in Baltimore, he urged them to try to focus on building up their relationship with the community in the future.
Police officers “have got to build more trust. It’s in their interest to root out people who aren’t doing their job instead of the closing of the ranks we see,” Obama said.
“My heart goes out to the police officers who were injured in the past few days,” he added. “They showed extraordinary restraint It shows how tough a job like policing can be.”
Continued Obama: “We put them into communities where young people think it’s much more likely they’re going to prison than going to college You’ve got communities that have been disinvested for years. If you send police officers into those situations, where the drug trade is the primary economy and you say your job is to basically contain that then it’s not surprising that you end up with a situation of enormous tension between those communities and those police officers.
“We’re not going to change this overnight,” Obama concluded. “It requires focus.”