''It's hard to hate up close'' says FBI Director James Comey, who is calling for a conversation about race in the United States that extends beyond law enforcement. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) FBI Director James Comey on Thursday (February 12) called for a conversation about race in the United States that extends beyond law enforcement. Speaking at Georgetown University, Comey said the United States is at a crossroads following incidents involving white police officers fatally shooting unarmed black men in 2014. He said racial bias exists in all areas of American society. He called for a national debate about real and perceived racial biases both inside and outside law enforcement. Comey said racial bias is not an epidemic in law enforcement any more than it is in academia or the arts and quoted from a song in the musical "Avenue Q" titled "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist." "I think it's hard to hate up close and that the police in our country need to get out of their cars -- both literally and figuratively -- and get to know the people they serve. And the people in the communities need to know them," Comey said. Comey's speech marked the first time in recent history that an FBI director has specifically addressed the issue of race, an FBI spokesman said. U.S. President Barack Obama's response to the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City has been more narrowed. Rather than calling for a national conversation about race, he commissioned a task force to review local police practices and develop community policing strategies. Comey said he was not letting law enforcement off the hook. He called for local law enforcement agencies to begin mandating data collection on shooting deaths by police broken down by demographics.