As Barack Obama spoke during a townhall meeting in St. Petersburg, Florida Friday he was interrupted by the shouts of a handful of protesters accusing him of neglecting the African American community.
Three young men stood up during Obama’s speech and shouted, “What about the black community, Obama?” Supporters of the presidential hopeful attempted to drown out the men by chanting Obama’s slogan, “Yes We Can.”
Obama coolly addressed one of the protesters, “Excuse me, young man, this is going to be a question and answer session. You’ll have a chance to ask your questions, but you don’t want to disrupt the whole meeting.”
When the protesters had their turn during the Q&A session, they asked, “Why is it that you have not had the ability to not one time speak to the interests and even speak on behalf of the oppressed and exploited African-American community, or black community in this country?”
“I think you’re misinformed…every issue that you’ve spoken about, I actually did speak out on,” Obama responded, pointing out that he had condemned the predatory mortgage practices that have hurt blacks. “I was a civil rights lawyer. I passed the first racial profiling legislation in Illinois. I passed some of the toughest death penalty reform legislation in Illinois, so these are issues I’ve worked on for decades.”
Obama also admitted to not being able to please everyone and offered up a solution to his critics: “Now that doesn’t mean that I’m going to always satisfy the way you guys want these issues framed…which gives you the option of voting for somebody else. It gives you the option to run for office yourself.”
The Illinois senator also proposed measures to help the average worker with rising energy costs which included an immediate $1,000 tax rebate for low and middle income families that would be paid for with a 5-year profits tax on oil companies.