clock menu more-arrow no yes

Obama: you don’t have to hate police to admit we have a race problem in the justice system

“To admit we've got a serious problem in no way contradicts our respect and appreciation for the vast majority of police officers who put their lives on the line to protect us every single day.”

In a rare move, President Barack Obama on Thursday commented directly on the police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, arguing that “[a]ll Americans should be deeply troubled” and that “[w]e’ve seen such tragedies far too many times.”

Here is the full post:

Obama is careful not to paint police with a broad brush. He notes, “To admit we've got a serious problem in no way contradicts our respect and appreciation for the vast majority of police officers who put their lives on the line to protect us every single day. It is to say that, as a nation, we can and must do better to institute the best practices that reduce the appearance or reality of racial bias in law enforcement.”

But he also said clearly that the shootings are not anomalies: “[R]egardless of the outcome of such investigations, what's clear is that these fatal shootings are not isolated incidents. They are symptomatic of the broader challenges within our criminal justice system, the racial disparities that appear across the system year after year, and the resulting lack of trust that exists between law enforcement and too many of the communities they serve.”

Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, also commented on the Sterling shooting on Wednesday:

The death of Alton Sterling is a tragedy, and my prayers are with his family, including his five children. From Staten Island to Baltimore, Ferguson to Baton Rouge, too many African American families mourn the loss of a loved one from a police-involved incident. Something is profoundly wrong when so many Americans have reason to believe that our country doesn’t consider them as precious as others because of the color of their skin.

I am glad the Department of Justice has agreed to a full and thorough review of this shooting. Incidents like this one have undermined the trust between police departments and the communities they serve. We need to rebuild that trust. We need to ensure justice is served. That begins with common sense reforms like ending racial profiling, providing better training on de-escalation and implicit bias, and supporting municipalities that refer the investigation and prosecution of police-involved deaths to independent bodies. All over America, there are police officers demonstrating how to protect the public without resorting to unnecessary force. We need to learn from and build on those examples.

Progress is possible if we stand together and never waver in our fight to secure the future that every American deserves.

And she tweeted about the Castile shooting on Thursday morning:

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, has not publicly commented on the shootings.


Watch: Why recording the police is so important

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for The Weeds

Get our essential policy newsletter delivered Fridays.