Of course Brother West is wrong. I'd like to take some time to document why.
First, lets go back to the time when Barack Obama was a State Senator in Illinois. It was there that he actually led the fight against racial profiling. But he also spoke out against a state gang database, joined an effort to examine a complete overhaul of the state's criminal code, supported a moratorium on the death penalty, introduced legislation against zero tolerance policies in schools, and spoke out against mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes.
But perhaps the President's critics will suggest that somehow he has been corrupted since he got to the White House. Let's remind ourselves that the President's primary responsibility is administering laws. And so often we forget to look at what he has done in that capacity as opposed to simply focusing on the legislative arena.
When it comes to civil rights, the most powerful thing the President did was nominate the first African American Attorney General - Eric Holder. And then they nominated Thomas Perez to head up the DOJ's Civil Rights Division - the one that had been decimated by the Bush administration. What we saw immediately was that the Division started actually hiring lawyers with a background in enforcing civil rights. Just take a look at some of the people they brought on board.
These folks got to work pretty quickly bringing an unprecedented 17 investigations of police brutality to departments in some of the countries largest urban areas like New Orleans, Seattle, and Newark. Of course the most noted story along these lines was the suit DOJ brought against Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio for civil rights abuses.
Back in the summer of 2011, the Department of Justice teamed up with the Department of Education to launch the Supporting School Discipline Initiative, which was the opening act for this administration to tackle the school-to-prison pipeline. One outcome of that effort was that DOE's civil rights office resumed the collection of racial data in school disciplinary activities. That data has led to investigations of racial bias launched in 20 school districts across 14 states. In the most serious case, DOJ filed charges against the town of Meridian, MS - leading to a consent decree to protect students of color.
Finally, the Obama administration recently issued A Drug Policy for the 21st Century that basically declared the "war on drugs" over.
Put simply, an enforcement-centric “war on drugs” approach to drug policy is counterproductive, inefficient, and costly.I get that people like Smiley and West are more interested in listening to themselves talk than they are in actually taking the time to learn what this administration is doing. But lets be clear...on the ground where it really matters, the Obama administration has been busy tackling some of the most insidious civil rights issues of our time.