Source: Stephanie Condon / CBS News
Some civil rights leaders say they’re expecting more from the administration of the nation’s first African-American president.
“The president has made a statement of consolation,” Rev. Al Sharpton said outside of the Justice Department on Tuesday. “We don’t need consolation, we need legislation. And we need some federal prosecution.”
Mr. Obama is hardly the first president compelled to address a high-profile criminal court case that’s dredged up unpleasant questions about racial equality in the nation’s legal system. The Martin shooting and Zimmerman’s trial have drawn comparisons to the Rodney King beating and subsequent trials, as well as the O.J. Simpson murder trial. President George H.W. Bush and President Clinton both talked about race following those trials, but the dynamic is different for Mr. Obama.
“Many people feel President Obama has a special obligation to focus on these issues because he’s the first black president,” Richard Ford, an expert on civil rights and antidiscrimination law at Stanford Law School, told CBSNews.com. “On the other hand, other people would be suspicious that he was inappropriately biased on the issue. He’s walking a tightrope with respect to these issues, and that probably explains some of his reticence.”
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