“Now is the time for peace and calm on the streets of Ferguson. Now is the time for an open and transparent process to see that justice is done.”
Reader comments on Obama’s speeches
On Aug. 14, 2014, President Obama uttered those words near the close of a speech he made in Edgartown, Mass., five days after the shooting death of black teen Michael Brown at the hands of Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson, Mo., police officer.
The streets of Ferguson immediately following the shooting had been, by some accounts, anything but peaceful. Among the hundreds of legitimate protesters were looters robbing business and setting stores and cars on fire. Officers fired into crowds, arrested legitimate protesters and journalists, and approached people on the streets with militarized vehicles and weapons.
In the year since Brown’s death, Obama has made more than half a dozen similar statements and speeches following the untimely deaths of other young black men and women either at the hands of police or while in custody (for stats on the rate of killing of young black and white men by police in the U.S., take a look at our data section). The president ordered a Justice Department investigation into the death of Brown. The investigation found that Wilson’s actions did not “constitute prosecutable violations.” But the DOJ also found a disproportionate use of force by the police department toward young black men and a pattern of systemic violations of the First, Fourth and 14th Amendments.
Below, your words in response to Obama’s speeches and actions in the year since Brown’s death. We asked: Have the president’s speeches united or divided America? What do you think of the political response to police use of force? What more should our political leaders be doing to bridge the gap between police and minority communities? What should they do to ensure police safety?
Your responses through Google Voice phone calls and letters (for more reader views and graphics that capture the national conversation, visit our Your Say Interactive page):