President Obama gives his most candid interview on race

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says many Americans are “troubled” by the video showing police wrestling to the ground a New York man who later died. But he said the availability of such images can spark conversations that have been “a long time coming.”

“It used to be folks would say, well, maybe blacks are exaggerating, some of these situations aren’t what they describe,” Obama said in an interview with BET that aired Monday.

The president did not discuss his personal reaction to the video of Eric Garner’s encounter with police, though White House officials say he has seen it.

The officer involved in the incident was not indicted, intensifying protests around the country already underway after a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri did not indict a police officer in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Obama said that as long as protests are peaceful, “I think they are necessary. When they turn violent, then they’re counterproductive.”

The president has been cautious in his public comments about the deaths of Brown and Garner, particularly in discussing the grand jury decisions. However, he has said there is a need to address the mistrust that persists between law enforcement and communities of color.

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