Obama Talks Eric Garner: ‘This Is an American Problem’ (Updated)
Updated 6:18 p.m. | Another grand jury and another decision not to indict a white police officer in the killing of an unarmed black man — this time in the choking of Eric Garner — had President Barack Obama back at the podium Wednesday afternoon lamenting relations between minorities and law enforcement and vowing action.
“It’s incumbent on all of us as Americans …that we recognize that this is an American problem,” Obama said. “And it’s my job as president to help solve it.” The case of Eric Garner, who was videotaped being choked by a New York City police officer before he died, has captured the attention of Congress as Democrats, including New York senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles E. Schumer, called for a Department of Justice investigation after a grand jury refused to indict the officer seen choking him on tape.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said later Wednesday that Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch told him that the Department of Justice would investigate following the grand jury’s decision.
Obama noted that he has a policy of not commenting on legal cases while there was the possibility of future legal action, but said he had just gotten off the phone with Attorney General Eric Holder, who he said would have more to say on the case.
Obama also said law enforcement has an incredibly difficult job. “They have the right to come home just like we do from our jobs,” he said.
However, Obama said, minorities have felt “for decades” in some communities that they are not treated fairly by law enforcement, he said.
Obama was speaking during an event with Native American tribes.
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