The former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus said only the “crazies” feel the tension between police and communities is acceptable in the wake of Ferguson.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) told MSNBC last night that he believes what President Obama “is trying to do is to inspire Americans to do what they don’t really want to do in order to achieve what they really would like to achieve, which is a race-less society.”
Obama pulled together mayors and leaders of advocacy groups ranging from the NAACP to La Raza yesterday to talk about reforms after the shooting of Michael Brown and subsequent protests. His game plan includes putting tighter restrictions on military equipment used by police and sending Attorney General Eric Holder out to meet with community leaders.
“And it’s difficult where — it’s not the number one job that the president has. But in many ways he is an evangelist,” said Cleaver, who’s also a Methodist pastor. “And the meeting at the White House today was evangelistic in the sense that, he’s trying to come up with ways in which we can reduce the tension and then try to move forward to get to another level in this country.”
“I don’t think there’s anybody except the crazies who feel comfortable right now with what’s going on. And for the president to call a meeting in the White House I think is symbolic of what he what people to do around to the country today is look for solutions. This is not about hating police department.”
The former mayor of Kansas City stressed he had security for eight years from the police department. “And 99.9999 percent of those guys are good human beings.”
Cleaver lauded the five Rams players who came onto the field with a “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture, drawing criticism from the local police union.
“Back in the 1970s we had professional athletes like Jim Brown, like Kareem Abdul Jabbar and others who became intimately involved with the civil rights movement,” he said. “…I am trilled that there are young athletes, professional athletes now who are going beyond taking up their paycheck and performing on the field or on the basketball court. I think it’s a good thing.”
Cleaver said that doesn’t mean people need to agree with the gesture, but can take away the message: “Look, please try to understand our pain. You don’t have to agree, just try to understand how we feel when these things like this happen.”