President Obama said yesterday that the profound tensions between the police and African-American communities were likely to worsen “for quite some time” after this month’s series of wrenching shooting deaths. He urged law enforcement officials and civil rights activists at a lengthy and at times tense White House gathering to keep pressing to bridge their differences, reports the New York Times. “Not only are there very real problems but there are still deep divisions about how to solve these problems,” Obama said after meeting for over four hours all afternoon and into the evening with the group.
“There is no doubt that police departments still feel embattled and unjustly accused, and there is no doubt that minority communities, communities of color, still feel like it just takes too long to do what’s right,” Obama added. “We have to, as a country, sit down and just grind it out — solve these problems.” The session included administration officials and community activists from the Black Lives Matter movement among the 40 or so in attendance. Hostility flared at times at the closed-door meeting as those representing police organizations clashed with people who had been arrested at protests, said Rashad Robinson of the online civil rights group Color of Change. The hastily arranged meeting came a day after Obama traveled to Dallas to memorialize five police officers slain last week by an African-American man who said he wanted to kill white people. That attack unfolded during a peaceful protest of the killings days earlier of two black men, in Baton Rouge, La., and outside St. Paul at the hands of the police. Both police shootings were captured on videotape.