“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” when asked if systemic racism was a problem for police agencies.
O’Brien added that there are “some bad apples in there. There are some bad cops who are racist. There are cops that maybe don’t have the right straining.”
“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.
The comments from O’Brien come as protests against racism and police violence have taken place across the country in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. The official claimed the violence that has broken out in some cities is being driven by “militants,” and said he had not seen reports that white supremacists had inflamed tensions in some instances. He also maintained that President Donald Trump and the White House support peaceful demonstrations.
The protests were sparked by the killing last week of Floyd, an unarmed black man who died at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Protesters say they want to see charges for all four police officers involved in Floyd’s death. So far, officials have only charged the officer who was seen in a video with his knee on Floyd’s neck with third-degree murder and manslaughter — but protesters and critics believe the charge isn’t harsh enough.
Although the protesters are calling for justice in Floyd’s case in cities across the country, they are also seeking to draw attention to a number of recent high-profile cases in which African American men and women died at the hands of police officers, including Eric Garner and Mike Brown.