Obama: Mistrust of Police Corrodes America

U.S. President Barack Obama says the widespread mistrust of law enforcement, exposed after the fatal police shooting last month of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, is corroding America.

The president, speaking Saturday in Washington at the annual Congressional Black Caucus dinner, said the corrosion affected communities that need law enforcement the most.

Obama said “it makes folks who are victimized by crime and need strong policing reluctant to go to the police because they may not trust them.”

The president said the young man’s death reawakened the country to the fact that “a gulf of mistrust” exists between local residents and law enforcement in too many communities.

The parents of Michael Brown, the young black man killed in Ferguson by a white police officer, attended the annual Black Caucus dinner.  

They said in an interview with the Associated Press that they were unmoved by the apology given Thursday by the Ferguson police chief, weeks after their unarmed son was killed.  Michael Brown, Sr. said instead of an apology he would rather see the officer who shot his son arrested.

Brown said, “an apology would be when Darren Wilson has handcuffs, processed and charged with murder.”   Wilson is the officer who shot the Brown’s son.  

Lesley McSpadden, Brown’s mother, said she felt lost and helpless and her life would never be normal again.

Police have said Brown was shot after a brief struggle with Officer Wilson.  Witnesses have said the 18-year-old Brown was retreating from the officer with his hands in the air when he was shot.

Brown’s parents are also angry about the bracelets some Ferguson police officers are now wearing in support of the officer who shot their son.  The black bracelets have white lettering that reads “I am Darren Wilson.”

In a letter released Friday, the Justice Department asked Ferguson’s police chief to “confirm our understanding” that officers in the suburban St. Louis County department were not wearing the bracelets while on duty.

Brown’s mother said the police wearing the bracelets “lets me know how they really feel about the situation and the wrongness that they do.”

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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