Obama: 'Institutional Constraints' Kept Me From Commenting on Killings of Black Americans As President


Former President Barack Obama says he faced obstacles during his time in office when it came to commenting on the killings of Black Americans.

During the My Brother’s Keeper Leadership Forum, Obama explained his struggles with “institutional constraints” that prevented him from speaking out on the issue.

“There were some frustrations for me in my institutional role. … I went as far as I could just commenting on cases like Trayvon Martin or what was happening in Ferguson,” Obama said.

Obama noted he followed the notion the Department of Justice was independent and he could not “steer them.”

“I did not in any way want to endanger their capacity to go in and 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 in terms of what happened. So you had institutional constraints,” the former president continued.

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Watch his remarks below (starting at 30:00):

Acknowledging he won the presidency in 2012 but not Congress, Obama said, “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.”

Obama and his wife, former First Lady Michelle Obama, praised a jury in April for finding former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, as IJR previously reported.

“For almost a year, George Floyd’s death under the knee of a police officer has reverberated around the world — inspiring murals and marches, sparking conversations in living rooms and new legislation. But a more basic question has always remained: would justice be done?” they said in a statement.

The Obamas added, “In this case, at least, we have our answer. But if we’re being honest with ourselves, we know that true justice is about much more than a single verdict in a single trial.”

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