President Obama on Saturday acknowledged work remains on improving relations between law enforcement and the minority communities they serve.
Obama said Americans must continue tackling class, race and poverty following multiple fatal encounters between police and minorities during 2015.
“Over the past year, we’ve come to see, more clearly than ever, the frustration in many communities of color and the feeling that our laws can be applied unevenly,” he said during his weekly address.
“But let’s be clear: The issues raised over the past year aren’t new, and they won’t be solved by policing alone,” the president added. “We simply can’t ask our police to contain and control issues that the rest of us aren’t willing to address — as a society.”
“It means dealing honestly with issues of race, poverty and class that leave too many communities feeling isolated and segregated from greater opportunity.”
Obama argued that re-evaluating legal justice is an important first step in improving America’s social harmony.
“That starts with reforming a criminal justice system that too often is a pipeline from inadequate schools to overcrowded jails, wrecking havoc on communities and families all across the country,” he said.
Obama charged that upgrading early education is a critical tool to prevent an increase in national crime.
“More broadly, we need to truly invest in our children and our communities so that many young people see a better path for their lives,” he said. “That means investing in early childhood education, job training, pathways to college.”
“It means expanding that opportunity to every American willing to work for it, no matter what zip code they were born into,” he added. “Because, in the end, that’s always been the promise of America.”
Obama’s remarks follow the one-year anniversary last week of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Mo.
The unarmed black teen died after getting shot by Darren Wilson, a white police officer, during a confrontation last summer.
Fresh violence erupted in Ferguson last weekend on the anniversary of Brown’s death.
Police shot Tyrone Harris, Jr., the evening of Aug. 10 after he opened fire, hitting two police vehicles.
Harris remains in critical condition after the incident. It prompted a state of emergency in the troubled city that was lifted Friday.