Obama used a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to launch into a lengthy six-point monologue on American racial relations, clearly prepared for a Baltimore question during a session that largely focused on a controversial and tentative Asian trade agreement.
“We can’t just leave this to the police,” said Obama, while arguing that once again one has seen American reluctance to deal with issues that “are not new.”
“Some communities have to do some soul searching,” he said in the Rose Garden gathering. “This is now new. It’s been going on for decades,” citing entrenched poverty and communities “stripped of opportunity.”
“If we really wanted to solve the problem, we could,” he said during perhaps the sharpest moment of what appeared mostly extemporaneous remarks.
“It would require everybody saying, ‘this is important, this is significant,’ and not just pay attention to these communities when a CVS burns or a young man gets shot or has his spine snapped.”
The image of a burning building, and a spine being snapped, came amid his suggestion that coverage paid scant attention to what played out in previous days before Monday’s post-funeral riots.
“The violence that happened yesterday distracted from the fact you’d seen multiple days of peaceful protest…that were constructive. And, frankly, they didn’t get much attention.”
“The thousands of demonstrators who did it the right way have been lost in the discussion. The overwhelmingly majority in Baltimore have handled things appropriately.”