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Obama Speaks on Racially-Charged Police Killing: 'This Is an American Problem


"When anybody in this country is not being treated equally under the law, that’s a problem."

President Barack Obama (AP/Isaac Brekken, File)

President Barack Obama said the decision by a New York grand jury not to indict the police officer who ultimately killed Eric Garner "speaks to a larger issue" in America.

Some responded with outrage after a grand jury opted against the indictment on Wednesday. The police officer put a chokehold on Garner during the arrest and it ended up killing him.

“It is incumbent upon all of us as Americans -- regardless of race, region, faith -- that we recognize this is an American problem, not just a black problem, or a brown problem or a Native American problem.” He concluded, “This is an American problem. When anybody in this country is not being treated equally under the law, that’s a problem. And it's my job as president to help solve it."

CNN has video of Obama's remarks:

Obama’s comment on this case comes days after a White House conference with civil rights leaders and city officials about improving police relations with their community. The conference occurred after the Ferguson, Missouri, grand jury decided not to indict white police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown.

Obama said the New York grand jury decision “speaks to the larger issues” between minorities and police in the United States, Reuters reported.

"We are not going to let up  until we see a strengthening of the trust and a strengthening of accountability that exists between our communities and our law enforcement," Obama said.

He added that the decision is relevant to “the concern on the part of too many minority communities that law enforcement is not working with them and dealing with them in a fair way.”

He said Attorney General Eric Holder will have more details on the Garner case.

Obama explained that police have to deal with real crime. But building trust will help them better enforce the law.

"They’re only going to be able to do their job effectively if everybody has confidence in the system," Obama said of police. "Right now, unfortunately, we are seeing too many instances where people just do not have confidence that folks are being treated fairly. And in some cases, those may be misperceptions. But in some cases, that’s a reality."

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