- The Washington Times - Monday, March 9, 2015

The United States’ first black Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday that he still sees a “dark vein” of intolerance in the country, specifically in the Republican Party and embattled Ferguson, Missouri.

“I still see it. I still see it in the Republican Party and I still see it in other parts of our country. You don’t have to be a Republican to be touched by this dark vein,” said Mr. Powell, who served in the Bush administration as a Republican but endorsed President Obama in 2008 and 2012.

“We’ve come a long way, but there’s a long way to go. And we have to change the hearts and minds of Americans,” he told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.”

“We have to deal with making sure that everybody can vote and express their opinion, police forces are acting in a proper manner, citizens are acting in a proper manner with respect to the police forces and that governments and cities and states throughout the country are making sure that they are not discriminating against any particular part of their citizenry,” Mr. Powell said.

His comments come after President Obama and former President George W. Bush marched in Selma, Alabama, on Saturday to mark the 50-year anniversary of “Bloody Sunday.” They were joined by Georgia Rep. John Lewis, a black Democrat who was brutally beaten during the 1965 march.

“We’ve made enormous progress,” Mr. Powell continued. “If we hadn’t made progress, he wouldn’t have been standing there, Eric Holder wouldn’t have been with him and I wouldn’t be here right now.

“But we still now have hurdles that we have to get over,” he said. “I’m troubled by a number of things about — with respect to some of the states trying to restrict voting by voter ID laws. Those are hurdles that we can get over.”

The former secretary of state also weighed in on the Justice Department’s report last week that found systemic discrimination against blacks by the Ferguson Police Department.

“I was shocked, but not that surprised, frankly,” he said. “I know these things that existed in other parts of our country. This shouldn’t have been that great a surprise to any of us.

“What we have to do now, then, is for all of the police departments, all of the mayors and county and other officials throughout the country, take a look in the mirror. See what you’re doing. Are you really arresting people just so you can get the money needed to run the government?” Mr. Powell asked.

“That’s not right,” he declared.

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