Is Obama Running Away from the Black Community?

Obama has been castigated in the black community for his failure to speak out against the Bell verdict in New York City. The ruling vindicated the right of police officers to fire 50 bullets and kill an unarmed young black man because they thought someone in the car might have been reaching down under the seat for a gun that didn’t exist. Obama  also failed to support March for the Jena 6 and of course, he was too busy to attend the State of the Black Union Forum for two years in a row, while Hillary managed to attend.

Tavis Smiley made some comments about Obama’s no show, He said he was “hammered,” “barbecued,” and is “catching hell” from black Americans for suggesting that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) made a major mistake by declining to speak at the State of the Black Union event.. “There’s all this talk of hater, sellout and traitor,” Smiley said “I have family in Indianapolis. They are harassing my momma, harassing my brother. It’s getting to be crazy,” Smiley said. And it ended up with him, his brother and his mother receiving death threats from Obama supporters.

The following are contrasts between Obama and Clinton Statements about the verdict in the Sean Bell trial in the New York Times.

— Asked by reporters about it in Indianapolis, Senator Barack Obama said the police shooting at first seemed like a case of excessive force. He withheld judgment, but urged community leaders and the police to come together and peacefully work through the tragedy. “We’re a nation of laws, so we respect the verdict that came down,” Mr. Obama told reporters here on the campaign trail in Indiana. “Resorting to violence to express displeasure over a verdict is something that is completely unacceptable and is counterproductive.”

—In the early evening, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York issued a written statement: This tragedy has deeply saddened New Yorkers – and all Americans. My thoughts are with Nicole and her children and the rest of Sean’s family during this difficult time. The court has given its verdict, and now we await the conclusion of a Department of Justice civil rights investigation. We must also embrace this opportunity to take steps — in our communities, in our law enforcement agencies, and in our government — to make sure this does not happen again.

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About Blake Fleetwood

Blake Fleetwood Blake Fleetwood was formerly on the staff of The New York Times and has written for The New York Times Magazine, New York Magazine, The New York Daily News, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Village Voice, Atlantic and the Washington Monthly on a number of issues. He was born in Santiago, Chile and moved to New York City at the age of three. He graduated from Bard College and did graduate work in political science and comparative politics at Columbia University. He has also taught politics at New York University. He can be reached at
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2 Responses to Is Obama Running Away from the Black Community?

  1. She’s much too tepid for my tastes, but Hillary wins this one in a landslide.

  2. Janis says:

    And it ended up with him, his brother and his mother receiving death threats from Obama supporters.

    Can I say that I strongly suspect that the death threats came from white Obama supporters? Who for all their supposed post-racial enlightenment, weren’t above harassing the crap out of a highly accomplished black man for kicks?

    Roll me in phyllo dough and call me a cynic.

    Have the people who threatened him ever been found out?