Administration

Obama says ‘institutional constraints’ kept him from commenting on killings of Black Americans

Former President Obama said that “institutional constraints” prevented him from speaking out about the killings of Black Americans during his time in the White House.

Obama’s foundation, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, on Wednesday hosted a forum during which the former president participated in a panel discussion on the activism sparked by last year’s police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man.

Obama noted that there were several high-profile killings of Black Americans — including Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Alton Sterling — during his time in office but said he didn’t want to interfere with the Justice Department’s investigations into the cases.

“I did not in any way want to endanger their capacity to go in, investigate and potentially charge perpetrators, which meant that I could not come down or appear to come down decisively in terms of guilt or innocence,” Obama said.

The former president added that he didn’t have the majorities needed to make a significant push for social justice.

“Keep in mind, in 2012, I won. But I didn’t win congressmen, and we didn’t win a bunch of governorships back. We didn’t win a bunch of state legislators back,” Obama said  “And so, all the reform initiatives that we were coming up with and the ideas that had been generated, we weren’t able to translate into as bold a set of initiatives as I would have wanted.”

The forum came after the one-year anniversary of the death of Floyd, who was murdered by then Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Floyd’s family on Tuesday was in Washington, D.C., pleading with lawmakers to pass the police reform act named for him.

Floyd’s death, among others, led to nationwide protests over social justice and police reform. 

Tags Barack Obama George Floyd My Brother’s Keeper Alliance

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