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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."

9 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

9 hours ago - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."