Barack Obama said Wednesday that "institutional constraints" stopped him from speaking out against the killings of Black Americans when he was in office.
What he's saying: "There were some frustrations for me in my institutional role," Obama said, citing unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, following the fatal 2014 shooting of Black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer.
- "I went as far as I could just commenting on cases like Trayvon Martin," he said of the unarmed Black teenager shot and killed by then-neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in 2012.
- Obama explained that in those instances he did "not in any way want to endanger" the Justice Department in its "capacity to go in, investigate and potentially charge perpetrators."
- This meant he "could not come down or appear to come down decisively in terms of guilt or innocence in terms of what happened," the former president added.
Of note: Obama noted that when he won in 2012, he didn't have congressional or gubernatorial majorities, which prevented him from pushing through social justice reforms.
- "All the reform initiatives that we were coming up with, and the ideas that had been generated, we weren't able to translate into as bold a set of initiatives as I would have wanted," he said.