President Obama will hold a series of meetings Monday at the White House regarding Ferguson and the many issues arising from the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.
Many protest rallies and acts of civil disobedience have taken place across the country over the death of Brown.
According to a White House Official, the President will meet with elected officials, members of the law enforcement community and faith leaders to discuss how communities and law enforcement can “work together.”
Currently in the U.S., African American teens are 21 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than white teens, according to a study by ProPublica.
The case of Michael Brown isn’t the only police killing that has received national attention recently. Last week in Ohio, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot dead by police less than three seconds after they arrived on the scene. Rice possessed a toy gun. In New York, Eric Garner, 43, was strangled to death on a sidewalk by Officer Daniel Pantaleo after the officer accused him of selling cigarettes. In Utah, Darrien Hunt, 22, was shot dead by police on September 10. Less than two weeks ago in Brooklyn, NY, Akai Gurley, 28, was shot dead by a police officer in an apartment building. New York officials admitted Gurley was innocent and the shooting was a “tragic mistake.”
Though the Department of Justice still has not concluded a long awaited update to their racial profiling guidelines for federal police — a draft has been rumored but still: no update. Attorney General Holder will attend events on issues related to Ferguson in Atlanta tomorrow.
President Obama is expected to focus on a request made by two Congressman three months ago regarding civilian cops using war gear.
In August, Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO), who represents Ferguson, and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), met with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and requested a review of Pentagon program 1033.
The program allows the Department of Defense to give surplus military equipment to local police, free of charge. Scenes in Ferguson have included photos of snipers in military gear, cops outfitted in what U.S. military would wear at war, tanks, armored personnel carriers and other war gear usually seen in footage from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Reps. Clay and Cleaver talked with Hagel regarding “overbearing police response”focused on law-abiding citizens by police using military weapons. The Congressmen asked for restrictions and training on the program at the August meeting.
In yet another odd moment in White House/Congressional “relations,” neither Clay or Cleaver have been invited to tomorrow’s meetings though other elected officials will attend. President Obama is expected to focus on the issue Monday.
Several members of the Black Caucus issues hot statements after last week’s announcement that a Grand Jury declined to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown.
“How many more Black men will have to die before there is an end to mistreatment of people of color,” Rep. Frederica Wilson wrote in a release on November 25.
“If there is any good that can come out of the tragedy in Ferguson, our hope is that this effort will spur a national discussion about how to achieve a fundamental shift in local law enforcement, away from military-style responses, and towards a more community-based policy,” and August 22, release after the meeting read.
Reportedly on Monday the President is expected to announce that he will implement several recommendations made in August.
“As the country has witnessed, disintegration of trust between law enforcement agencies and the people they protect and serve can destabilize communities, undermine the legitimacy of the criminal justice system, undermine public safety, create resentment in local communities, and make the job of delivering police services less safe and more difficult,” a White House Official informed reporters on background.