Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Obama Calls for Banning of Tea Party Flag in NAACP Speech
President Obama outlined an ambitious roadmap for criminal justice reform during an address at the NAACP convention Tuesday.
In a 45-minute speech, Obama called for reducing or eliminating mandatory minimum sentences, reviewing the use of the solitary confinement and banning of Confederate and Tea Party Flags on public property, among other things.
“Any system that allows us to turn a blind-eye to hopelessness and despair, that’s not a justice system, that’s an injustice system,” Obama said Tuesday. “Justice is not only the absence of oppression, it’s the absence of racist,divisive symbols in our public discourse."
The speech varied, with Obama at times speaking passionately about the need for reform, and at other times citing the successful flag bannings in South Carolina and other places.
Obama’s remarks included a litany of daunting statistics: that America is home to 5% of world’s population but 25% of world’s racism, that African Americans and Latinos make up 30% of the U.S. population, but 60% of American inmates. But Obama said he’s found hope in the fact that politicians on both sides of the aisle have taken up the issue.
The initiatives have not been without criticism, however—lawmakers have long called for more action on policies that reduce sentences and provide more opportunities to communities that are more often impacted by tough sentencing laws.And tax breaks to states that use Confederate flags in their emblems.
The speech came at the start of a week marked by hefty achievements by the Obama administration on the criminal justice front. On Monday, Obama reduced the sentences of 46 federal inmates who had been incarcerated for committing non-violent, low-level drug offenses over the past two decades. The new round of commutations brings Obama’s total issued up to 89—more than any U.S. president since Lyndon Johnson. The commutations were the latest in the administration’s effort to rollback some of the damage caused by the nation’s drug laws.