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De Blasio At White House: Ferguson Crisis Is Reflection Of 'Centuries Of Racism'

WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Spurred by the Ferguson shooting and anti-police protests in New York and around the country, President Barack Obama on Monday announced new initiatives to bridge police mistrust.

As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, Obama also met with his Cabinet, Mayor Bill de Blasio and other mayors, law enforcement officials, and faith and civil rights leaders at the White House.

De Blasio said it is time to end what he called centuries of racism.

"We need things that will start to change the dynamics right now," de Blasio said at the White House.

Mayor Bill De Blasio To Attend White House Meeting On Ferguson

Mayor de Blasio earlier said the president was right to convene a national discussion, WCBS 880's Rich Lamb reported.

"We have a challenge right now that we have to face head on," de Blasio said earlier Monday. "This country right now is in pain. We've lost so many young men of color; young men who should still be alive and with us today, and it's calling at us. It's calling at people of all backgrounds."

The mayor declared, "We know these problems are based on not just decades, but centuries of racism."

At a news conference outside the White House, de Blasio accepted responsibility at the White House for making the police force more racially sensitive in the way they do their jobs.

"There is a real sense of resolve; a sense that we have to solve these problems right now in our lifetime," he said.

De Blasio voiced his concerns both as mayor, and as the father of two children who are the product of an interracial marriage.

"We all feel it from a family perspective – what it means that people have to wonder if their child will come home at night," he said. "I think every night about my son – making sure he comes home safely. So many people all over this country feel the same thing."

The Rev. Al Sharpton was also in attendance at the White House.

"We must support law enforcement, but law enforcement must support justice," Sharpton said.

The White House meeting was just part of a new move by Obama to stop the demonstrations that have stunned the nation in the wake of the Michael Brown incident, Kramer reported.

"We should have a debate about what kinds of changes we can make to our government and our society to address some of these concerns that have been laid bare dramatically in Ferguson over the last several months," said White House Press Secretary John Earnest.

Obama called Monday for a $263 million spending package, including $75 million in federal spending to get 50,000 more police to wear body cameras that record their interactions with civilians.

He also called for expanded training, and additional resources for police department reforms.

Obama also formed a task force on 21st century community policing that will make recommendations to improve community policing within four months.

"To make sure they have the training and the resources necessary to enhance crime prevention, while at the same time, they're strengthening the bond with the communities that they're sworn to serve," Earnest said.

However, Obama is not seeking to pull back federal programs that provide military-style equipment to local law enforcement.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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