MLK Memorial

FBI Director Comey lays wreath to honor Martin Luther King, Jr.

FBI Director James Comey discusses police shootings before laying a wreath at memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr.

WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES (JANUARY 18, 2016) (NBC) – The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation James Comey discussed recent police shootings before laying a wreath at the national memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday. (January 18)

“If Dr. King were with us today, I think he would be a tremendous help in helping us have one of the most difficult conversations going on in this country and that is between law enforcement and the communities we serve and protect, especially communities of color,” Comey said.

Tributes to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., held across the United States, have linked the federal holiday to a rallying cry in recent protests over police brutality: “Black lives matter.”

King’s 1960s dream of racial equality has been viewed through a lens focused on the deaths of unarmed black men after confrontations with police in the past two years, including Eric Garner, in New York City, and Michael Brown, shot in Ferguson, Missouri, and Freddie Gray, who died in police custody, in Baltimore, Maryland.

“Each time there is an incident that involves real or perceived police misconduct this line bends that way. And each time someone in law enforcement is killed in the line of duty this line bends that way. That is a very, very bad place for all of us to be because law enforcement needs communities, communities need law enforcement,” Comey said.

There is heightened awareness in the United States of police deaths in the line of duty and incidents in which civilians have died during and after encounters with police. There is intense controversy over the use of deadly force by U.S. law enforcement officers.

Police in the United States killed at least 1,152 people in the United States in 2015, with the 60 largest police departments disproportionately killing black people, according to data compiled by activists who run the Mapping Police Violence project.