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White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien said on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that he doesn't believe there is "systemic racism" among law enforcement in the U.S., arguing that there are "a few bad apples" that are giving police a bad name.

Why it matters: The mass protests that have swept across the United States are not just a response to the death of George Floyd, but of the dozens of high-profile instances of unarmed black men dying at the hands of police officers over the years.

  • 47% of unarmed people killed by the 100 largest city police departments between 2013 and 2019 were black, according to U.S. crime data collected by mappingpoliceviolence.org.
  • Minneapolis police, in particular, kill black people at a rate 13 times higher than white people — one of the largest racial disparities in the U.S.

What he's saying:

"No, I don't think there's systemic racism. I think 99.9% of our law enforcement officers are great Americans and many of them are African American, Hispanic, Asian. They're working the toughest neighborhoods, they've got the hardest jobs to do in this country. And I think they're amazing, great Americans, and they're my heroes.
But you know what, there are some bad apples in there. There are some bad cops that are racist, there are cops that maybe don't have the right training, and there are some that are just bad cops. And they need to be rooted out because there's a few bad apples that are giving law enforcement a terrible name."
— Robert O'Brien

The big picture: O'Brien said that President Trump's tweets about "vicious dogs" and "ominous weapons" greeting protestors at the White House were intended to de-escalate the situation, insisting that "we want law and order" and "peaceful protestors."

  • O'Brien repeated Attorney General Bill Barr's allegation that many of the protests are being "hijacked" by "left-wing antifa militants," though he did not provide specific evidence for the claim.
  • "Peaceful protesters are part of a great American tradition," O'Brien argued. "What we don't want to see are the armed protesters, those committing violence, those who are throwing bricks at Secret Service officers and park police last night in front at the White House, those burning down our cities and attacking the most vulnerable minority communities."

Go deeper: Black Americans' competing crises

Go deeper

Updated Sep 7, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Rochester mayor vows to reform police after Daniel Prude's death

Demonstrators in Rochester, New York. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Lovely Warren, mayor of Rochester, New York, pledged reforms to the city's police as protests continued Sunday over the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who was experiencing mental health issues when he was detained.

Driving the news: Prude died seven days after being hooded and held down by Rochester police. Police Chief La’Ron Singletary said at a news conference with Warren that he supported the changes and he was "dedicated to taking the necessary actions to prevent this from ever happening again."

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Here come Earmarks 2.0

DeLauro at a hearing in May 2020. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The House Appropriations Committee is preparing to restore a limited version of earmarks, which give lawmakers power to direct spending to their districts to pay for special projects.

Why it matters: A series of scandals involving members in both parties prompted a moratorium on earmarks in 2011. But Democrats argue it's worth the risk to bring them back because earmarks would increase their leverage to pass critical legislation with a narrow majority, especially infrastructure and spending bills.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

UN says Paris carbon-cutting plans fall far short

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Nations' formal emissions-cutting pledges are collectively way too weak to put the world on track to meet the Paris climate deal's temperature-limiting target, a United Nations tally shows.

Driving the news: This morning the UN released an analysis of the most recent nationally determined contributions (NDCs) — that is, countries' medium-term emissions targets submitted under the 2015 pact.