National security adviser says US police forces are not plagued by ‘systemic racism’

He spoke to CNN about the US police force Sunday

During the weekend, cities across the country saw protests and in some case rioting in response to what some believe is inherent racism within American police forces, which some say led to George Floyd’s death. However, the nation’s top security expert said “systemic racism” is not the issue.

Recently hired national security adviser Robert O’Brien said in an interview with CNN on Sunday that the issue with police brutality and unjust killings of black people is the result of a “few bad apples,” not an inveterate racial issue.

“No, I don’t think there’s systemic racism. I think 99.9% of our law enforcement officers are great Americans. Many of them are African American, Hispanic, Asian; they’re working the toughest neighborhood, they’ve got the hardest jobs to do in this country, and I think they’re amazing, great Americans,” O'Brien told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”

His comments were conjured by questions from Tapper about the problem with law enforcement nationwide. In Floyd’s case, the 46-year-old had been accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill before his arrest. After being arrested by ex-cop Derek Chauvin, the officer wrestled Floyd to the ground and kneed Floyd by the neck on pavement for several minutes before he died May  25. Chauvin has been charged with murder. He is one of many officers who have been accused or charged with killing unarmed black people in recent years.

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Social justice advocates have presented the killings of Walter Scott, Breonna Taylor and Eric Garner as examples of a larger issue with white police officers and black people. Rather than their arrest ending in possible jail time, Scott, Garner and Floyd are of the many who died in police custody.

O’Brien acknowledged that racism exists within some officers, but they’re not indicative of the national law enforcement community.

“There is no doubt that there are some racist police, I think they’re the minority, I think they’re the few bad apples and we need to root them out,” he said.

Peaceful protests cropped up around the nation after Floyd’s death last week. In more cases than not, late-night fires, vandalism, violence and looting emerged after peaceful demonstrations. Some shootings and injuries were reported in cities including Atlanta and Louisville, Kentucky. The damage collectively will likely cost cities hundreds of thousands to repair.

Speaking further on the protests Sunday, Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) spoke about what he described as fear and anxiety affecting black people in light of police killings and other forms of racism.

“What we see manifesting right now is not just a reaction to a live or caught-on-tape murder but a deep wound within our society, within our body politic that are festering in our country and must be addressed,” Booker said in the interview.