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  • ET CETERA.

  • WE'LL TRY TO ARRANGE A FULLER

  • PRESS CONFERENCE TO ADDRESS YOUR

  • QUESTIONS.

  • THE REASON I ACTUALLY WANTED TO

  • COME OUT TODAY IS NOT TO TAKE

  • QUESTIONS BUT TO SPEAK TO AN

  • ISSUE THAT OBVIOUSLY HAS GOTTEN

  • A LOT OF ATTENTION OVER THE

  • COURSE OF THE LAST WEEK.

  • THE ISSUE OF THE TRAYVON MARTIN

  • RULING.

  • I GAVE A PRELIMINARY STATEMENT

  • RIGHT AFTER THE RULING ON

  • SUNDAY, BUT WATCHING THE DEBATE

  • OVER THE COURSE OF THE LAST WEEK

  • I THOUGHT IT MIGHT BE USEFUL FOR

  • ME TO EXPAND ON MY THOUGHTS A

  • LITTLE BIT.

  • FIRST OF ALL, I WANT TO MAKE

  • SURE THAT, ONCE AGAIN, I SEND MY

  • THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS AS WELL AS

  • MICHELLE'S TO THE FAMILY OF

  • TRAYVON MARTIN AND TO REMARK ON

  • THE INCREDIBLE GRACE AND DIGNITY

  • WITH WHICH THEY'VE DEALT WITH

  • THE ENTIRE SITUATION.

  • I CAN ONLY IMAGINE WHAT THEY'RE

  • GOING THROUGH, AND IT'S

  • REMARKABLE HOW THEY'VE HANDLED

  • IT.

  • THE SECOND THING I WANT TO SAY

  • IS TO REITERATE WHAT I SAID ON

  • SUNDAY WHICH IS THERE GOING TO

  • BE A LOT OF ARGUMENTS ABOUT THE

  • LEGAL ISSUES IN THE CASE.

  • I'LL LET ALL THE LEGAL ANALYSTS

  • AND TALKING HEADS ADDRESS THOSE

  • ISSUES.

  • THE JUDGE CONDUCTED THE TRIAL IN

  • A PROFESSIONAL MANNER.

  • THE PROSECUTION AND THE DEFENSE

  • MADE THEIR ARGUMENTS.

  • THE JURIES WERE PROPERLY

  • INSTRUCTED THAT IN A CASE SUCH

  • AS THIS, REASONABLE DOUBT WAS

  • RELEVANT, AND THEY RENDERED A

  • VERDICT.

  • AND ONCE THE JURY'S SPOKEN,

  • THAT'S HOW OUR SYSTEM WORKS.

  • BUT I DID WANT TO JUST TALK A

  • LITTLE BIT ABOUT CONTEXT AND HOW

  • PEOPLE HAVE RESPONDED TO IT AND

  • HOW PEOPLE ARE FEELING.

  • YOU KNOW, WHEN TRAYVON MARTIN

  • WAS FIRST SHOT, I SAID THAT THIS

  • COULD HAVE BEEN MY SON.

  • ANOTHER WAY OF SAYING THAT IS

  • TRAYVON MARTIN COULD HAVE BEEN

  • ME 35 YEARS AGO.

  • AND WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT WHY IN

  • THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY,

  • AT LEAST, THERE'S A LOT OF PAIN

  • AROUND WHAT HAPPENED HERE.

  • I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO

  • RECOGNIZE THAT THE

  • AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY IS

  • LOOKING AT THIS ISSUE THROUGH A

  • SET OF EXPERIENCES AND A HISTORY

  • THAT DOESN'T GO AWAY.

  • THERE ARE VERY FEW

  • AFRICAN-AMERICAN MEN IN THIS

  • COUNTRY WHO HAVEN'T HAD THE

  • EXPERIENCE OF BEING FOLLOWED

  • WHEN THEY WERE SHOPPING IN A

  • DEPARTMENT STORE.

  • THAT INCLUDES ME.

  • THERE ARE, FRANKLY, VERY FEW

  • AFRICAN-AMERICAN MEN WHO HAVEN'T

  • HAD THE EXPERIENCE OF WALKING

  • ACROSS THE STREET AND HEARING

  • THE LOCKS CLICK ON THE DOORS OF

  • CARS.

  • THAT HAPPENS TO ME, AT LEAST

  • BEFORE I WAS A SENATOR.

  • THERE ARE VERY FEW

  • AFRICAN-AMERICANS WHO HAVEN'T

  • HAD THE EXPERIENCE OF GETTING ON

  • AN ELEVATOR AND A WOMAN

  • CLUTCHING HER PURSE NERVOUSLY

  • AND HOLDING HER BREATH UNTIL SHE

  • HAD A CHANCE TO GET OFF.

  • THAT HAPPENS OFTEN.

  • AND I DON'T WANT TO EXAGGERATE

  • THIS, BUT THOSE SETS OF

  • EXPERIENCES INFORM HOW THE

  • AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY

  • INTERPRETS WHAT HAPPENED ONE

  • NIGHT IN FLORIDA.

  • AND IT'S INESCAPABLE FOR PEOPLE

  • TO BRING THOSE EXPERIENCES TO

  • BEAR.

  • THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY

  • IS ALSO KNOWLEDGEABLE THAT THERE

  • IS A HISTORY OF RACIAL

  • DISPARITIES IN THE APPLICATION

  • OF OUR CRIMINAL LAWS.

  • EVERYTHING FROM THE DEATH

  • PENALTY TO ENFORCEMENT OF OUR

  • DRUG LAWS.

  • AND THAT ENDS UP HAVING AN

  • IMPACT IN TERMS OF HOW PEOPLE

  • INTERPRET THE CASE.

  • NOW, THIS ISN'T TO SAY THE

  • AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY IS

  • NIAIVE ABOUT THE FACT THAT

  • AFRICAN-AMERICAN YOUNG MEN ARE

  • DISPROPORTIONATELY INVOLVED IN

  • CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM, THAT

  • THEY'RE DISPROPORTIONATELY BOTH

  • VICTIMS AND PERPETRATORS OF

  • VIOLENCE.

  • IT'S NOT TO MAKE EXCUSES FOR

  • THAT FACT, ALTHOUGH BLACK FOLKS

  • DO INTERPRET THE REASONS FOR

  • THAT IN A HISTORICAL CONTEXT.

  • THEY UNDERSTAND THAT SOME OF THE

  • VIOLENCE THAT TAKES PLACE IN

  • POOR BLACK NEIGHBORHOODS AROUND

  • THE COUNTRY IS BORN OUT OF A

  • VERY VIOLENT PAST IN THIS

  • COUNTRY.

  • AND THAT THE POVERTY AND

  • DYSFUNCTION THAT WE SEE IN THOSE

  • COMMUNITIES CAN BE TRACED TO A

  • VERY DIFFICULT HISTORY.

  • AND SO THE FACT THAT SOMETIMES

  • THAT'S UNACKNOWLEDGED ADDS TO

  • THE FRUSTRATION AND THE FACT

  • THAT A LOT OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN

  • BOYS ARE PAINTED WITH A BROAD

  • BRUSH AND THE EXCUSE IS GIVEN,

  • WELL, THERE ARE THESE STATISTICS

  • OUT THERE THAT SHOW THAT

  • AFRICAN-AMERICAN BOYS ARE MORE

  • VIOLENT USING THAT AS AN EXCUSE

  • TO THEN SEE SONS TREATED

  • DIFFERENTLY CAUSES PAIN.

  • I THINK THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN

  • COMMUNITY IS ALSO NOT NAIVE IN

  • UNDERSTANDING THAT STATISTICALLY

  • SOMEBODY LIKE TRAYVON MARTIN WAS

  • PROBABLY STATISTICALLY MORE

  • LIKELY TO BE SHOT BY A PEER THAN

  • HE WAS BY SOMEBODY ELSE.

  • SO, SO FOLKS UNDERSTAND THE

  • CHALLENGES THAT EXIST FOR

  • AFRICAN-AMERICAN BOYS, BUT THEY

  • GET FRUSTRATED, I THINK, IF THEY

  • FEEL THERE'S NO CONTEXT.

  • AND THAT CONTEXT IS BEING

  • DENIED.

  • AND THAT ALL CONTRIBUTES, I

  • THINK, TO A SENSE THAT IF A

  • WHITE MALE TEEN WAS INVOLVED IN

  • THE SAME KIND OF SCENARIO, THAT

  • FROM TOP TO BOTTOM BOTH THE

  • OUTCOME AND THE AFTERMATH MIGHT

  • HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT.

  • NOW, THE QUESTION, FOR ME, AT

  • LEAST, AND I THINK FOR A LOT OF

  • FOLKS IS, WHERE DO WE TAKE THIS?

  • HOW DO WE LEARN SOME LESSONS

  • FROM THIS AND MOVE IN A POSITIVE

  • DIRECTION?

  • I THINK IT'S UNDERSTANDABLE THAT

  • THERE HAVE BEEN DEMONSTRATIONS

  • AND VIGILS AND PROTESTS AND SOME

  • OF THAT STUFF IS JUST GOING TO

  • HAVE TO WORK ITS WAY THROUGH, AS

  • LONG AS IT REMAINS NONVIOLENT.

  • IF I SEE ANY VIOLENCE, THEN I

  • WILL REMIND FOLKS THAT THAT

  • DISHONORS WHAT HAPPENED TO

  • TRAYVON MARTIN AND HIS FAMILY.

  • BUT BEYOND PROTESTS OR VIGILS,

  • THE QUESTIONS ARE THERE SOME

  • CONCRETE THINGS THAT WE MIGHT BE

  • ABLE TO DO?

  • I KNOW THAT ERIC HOLDER IS

  • REVIEWING WHAT HAPPENED DOWN

  • THERE, BUT I THINK IT'S

  • IMPORTANT FOR PEOPLE TO HAVE

  • SOME CLEAR EXPECTATIONS HERE.

  • TRADITIONALLY THESE ARE ISSUES

  • OF STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT.

  • THE CRIMINAL CODE AND LAW

  • ENFORCEMENT IS TRADITIONALLY

  • TONE AT THE STATE AND LOCAL

  • LEVELS.

  • NOT AT THE FEDERAL LEVELS.

  • THAT DOESN'T MEAN, THOUGH, THAT

  • AS A NATION WE CAN'T DO SOME

  • THINGS THAT I THINK WOULD BE

  • PRODUCTIVE.

  • SO LET ME JUST GIVE A COUPLE OF

  • SPECIFICS THAT I'M STILL

  • BOUNCING AROUND WITH MY STAFF,

  • SO WE'RE NOT ROLLING OUT SOME

  • FIVE-POINT PLAN, BUT SOME AREAS

  • WHERE I THINK ALL OF US COULD

  • POTENTIALLY FOCUS.

  • NUMBER ONE, PRECISELY BECAUSE

  • LAW ENFORCEMENT IS OFTEN

  • DETERMINED AT THE STATE AND

  • LOCAL LEVEL, I THINK IT WOULD BE

  • PRODUCTIVE FOR THE JUSTICE

  • DEPARTMENT, GOVERNORS, MAYORS,

  • TO WORK WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT

  • ABOUT TRAINING AT THE STATE AND

  • LOCAL LEVELS IN ORDER TO REDUCE

  • THE KIND OF MISTRUST IN THE

  • SYSTEM THAT SOMETIMES CURRENTLY

  • EXISTS.

  • YOU KNOW, WHEN I WAS IN

  • ILLINOIS, I PASSED RACIAL

  • PROFILING LEGISLATION AND IT

  • ACTUALLY DID JUST TWO SIMPLE

  • THINGS.

  • ONE, IT COLLECTED DATA ON

  • TRAFFIC STOPS AND THE RACE OF

  • THE PERSON WHO WAS STOPPED, BUT

  • THE OTHER THING WAS IT RESOURCED

  • US TRAINING POLICE DEPARTMENTS

  • ACROSS THE STATE ON HOW TO THINK

  • ABOUT POTENTIAL RACIAL BIAS AND

  • WAYS TO FURTHER PROFESSIONALIZE

  • WHAT THEY WERE DOING.

  • AND INITIALLY THE POLICE

  • DEPARTMENTS ACROSS THE STATE

  • WERE RESISTANT, BUT ACTUALLY

  • THEY CAME TO RECOGNIZE THAT IF

  • IT WAS DONE IN A FAIR,

  • STRAIGHTFORWARD WAY, THAT IT

  • WOULD ALLOW THEM TO DO THEIR

  • JOBS BETTER AND COMMUNITIES

  • WOULD HAVE MORE CONFIDENCE IN

  • THEM AND IN TURN BE MORE HELPFUL

  • IN APPLYING THE LAW.

  • AND OBVIOUSLY LAW ENFORCEMENT

  • HAS A VERY TOUGH JOB.

  • SO THAT'S ONE AREA WHERE I THINK

  • THERE ARE A LOT OF RESOURCES AND

  • BEST PRACTICES THAT COULD BE

  • BROUGHT TO BEAR IF STATE AND

  • LOCAL GOVERNMENTS ARE RECEPTIVE,

  • AND I THINK A LOT OF THEM WOULD

  • BE, AND LET'S FIGURE OUT ARE

  • THERE WAYS FOR US TO PUSH OUT

  • THAT KIND OF TRAINING?

  • ALONG THE SAME LINES, I THINK IT

  • WOULD BE USEFUL FOR US TO

  • EXAMINE SOME STATE AND LOCAL