Obama on Skip Gates and Racial Profiling

23 07 2009

At an otherwise snooze fest of a presser devoid of….well news, President Barack Obama offered a few candid remarks about racial profiling that may wind up overshadowing anything having to do with the debate over a public option or how to contain the rising cost of health care premiums. In responding to a question from Lyn Sweet of the Chicago Tribune about what the arrest of Harvard University scholar Henry Louis “Skip” Gates says about race relations in American society, the president was surprisingly pointed in his criticism of the Cambridge police.

The former civil rights lawyer said he thought “the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home” and that “we know separate and apart from this incident is that there’s a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That’s just a fact.”

President Obama also sought to disabuse people of the notion that his win in November 2008 or even that of Governor Deval Patrick in Massachuettes in 2006 means we now live in a so-called “post-racial” society where racism is dead when he asserted that there is “indisputable evidence that blacks and Hispanics were being stopped disproportionately. And that is a sign, an example of how, you know, race remains a factor in the society.”

He also said, “I am standing here as testimony to the progress that’s been made. And yet the fact of the matter is, is that, you know, this still haunts us.”

Watch his response:

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