In the judgment of U.S. President Barack Obama, racism against African-Americans is deeply entrenched in American society and history. Obama said this in an interview, which should be televised in its entirety on Monday on Black Entertainment Television, a cable television network that caters primarily to a black audience. In light of repeated cases of excessive violence by white police officers against blacks, racism in the United States, and whether it is part of the problem, will be discussed. These incidents and their judicial results for the officers involved have led to nationwide protests.

It came to violence and rioting on Sunday night in California, where the police used tear gas and rubber bullets against demonstrators. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the police deployment was the result of riots during the night in Berkeley — near San Francisco. The San Jose Mercury News reported that there were violent clashes during more than 15 hours of protest marches. Four police officers were injured; six people were arrested.

According to the estimates of one reporter, at least 1,500 demonstrators stood against roughly 100 police officers at times. “Protesters have thrown sandbags, pipes, bricks, side-view mirrors and smoke grenades at officers,” tweeted the police. Furthermore, multiple businesses were looted near the campus of the University of California at Berkeley; windowpanes were shattered and police cars were damaged.

De Blasio Sees 'Fundamental Problem'

In New York, weekend protests ebbed due in part to the weather. On Saturday, a few dozen demonstrators laid down in a “die-in” on the floor of Grand Central Station’s concourse. The symbolic act is supposed to recall the last minutes of Eric Garner, who died in a police choke hold.

“It's important to recognize as painful as these incidents are, we can't equate what is happening now to what happened fifty years ago,” the president said in the BET interview. Massive injustice against African-Americans led to the civil rights movement in the U.S. during the mid-1950s. “If you talk to your parents, grandparents, uncles, they'll tell you that things are better — not good, in some cases, but better.”

Over the past few weeks, Obama, together with outgoing black Attorney General Eric Holder, has signaled steps to take to tackle problems of race between police and residents across the country. He has refrained from entering into this discussion for a long time — in part to appeal equally to voters of every skin color and ancestry.

New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio also sees a “fundamental problem” in the U.S. in the gulf between the police and the population. “We have to have an honest conversation in this country about a history of racism,” he said to the ABC network. De Blasio expressed optimism that a rapprochement between white police officers and black citizens could be established.