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Young people of colour feel not being treated fairly: Obama

Barack Obama

Washington, Dec 2 (PTI) President Barack Obama has said young people of colour in the nation feel that they are not being treated fairly, conceding it a problem as he initiated steps to streamline the police system on the aftermath of the Ferguson shooting.

“I think Ferguson laid bare a problem that is not unique to St Louis or that area and is not unique to our time and that is a simmering distrust that exists between too many police departments and too many communities of colour,” Obama said in his remarks at the White House yesterday.

“The sense that in a country where one of our basic principles, perhaps the most important principle is equality under the law that too many individuals particularly young people of color do not feel as if they are being treated fairly,” said Obama, on a day he held a number of meetings on the Ferguson shooting in which a White police official killed an unarmed black male which resulted in unrest in the country.

“When any part of the American family does not feel like it is being treated fairly, that’s a problem for all of us. It’s not just a problem for some. It’s not just a problem for a particular community or a particular demographic. It means that we are not as strong as a country as we can be,” Obama said.

“And when applied to the criminal justice system, it means we’re not as effective in fighting crime as we could be,” he added.

Obama announced a task force to recommend him in 90 days best practices for communities where law enforcement and neighbourhoods are working well together — how do they create accountability; how do they create transparency; how do they create trust; and how can we at the federal level work with the state and local communities to make sure that some of those best practices get institutionalised.

He also announced a USD 263 million in funding for law enforcement agencies to purchase body-worn cameras and improve training.

The White House said the funding which would need to be matched by state and local police could purchase 50,000 body-worn cameras.

“The community policing initiative that’s announced, that’s a commitment of USD263 million in investments over three years to offer assistance to law enforcement agencies who are purchasing body- worn cameras, to expand training for law enforcement agencies, to add more resources to police departments that want to pursue reform efforts, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at his daily news conference.

These resources would also be used to facilitate the expansion of programs that encourage community leaders and law enforcement agencies to engage in a dialogue that would strengthen the effectiveness of law enforcement agencies and build trust with the communities that they’re sworn to serve and protect.

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