Obama: ‘All Americans Should Be Deeply Troubled’ by Police Shootings
President Barack Obama said on Thursday that all Americans should be “deeply troubled” by police shootings.
“All Americans should be deeply troubled by the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota,” Obama wrote in a Facebook post. “We’ve seen such tragedies far too many times.”
The Hill reports:
Obama’s first reaction to the shootings was published on the social media site while he was flying on Air Force One to a NATO summit in Poland.
Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, was pinned down by two white police officers and shot dead on Tuesday in Baton Rouge, La. Castile, 32 and also black, was fatally shot by an officer during a traffic stop on Wednesday.
Parts of both incidents were caught on video, but Obama did not say if has viewed the footage.
He declined to comment on the specifics of both cases, but he praised the Justice Department’s decision to investigate the Louisiana shooting. It is also weighing a probe of the Minnesota incident.
The twin shootings stirred nationwide anger about police violence against black men.
Obama has been forced to confront a string of deaths in cities such as Ferguson, Mo., Baltimore and New York City. And his White House has often struggled to mend frayed ties between police departments and the communities they serve.
“Regardless of the outcome of such investigations, what’s clear is that these fatal shootings are not isolated incidents,” Obama wrote. He said they are a result of distrust based on racial disparities between police and urban communities.
The president urged law enforcement agencies to adopt the recommendations of a White House task force designed to close that divide.
The suggestions, released last year, include community-relations training and more transparency on data on violent incidents. His administration also started a $23 million pilot program to expand the use of body cameras by police officers.
But the implementation of those recommendations has been uneven.
Baton Rouge police said the officers’ body cameras became dislodged during the altercation with Sterling, which has raised concerns from civil liberties groups.
The president wrote that while there is a “serious problem” with racial bias, that “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,” he said. “Let’s come together as a nation, and keep faith with one another, in order to ensure a future where all of our children know that their lives matter.”
Photo credit: Screenshot.