President Obama said “all Americans should be deeply troubled” by the recent police shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in a statement released by the White House Thursday, emphasizing that “these fatal shootings are not isolated incidents.”
The shooting of Sterling, a 37-year-old black man killed by Baton Rouge police earlier this week, is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice. Minnesota’s governor called for a federal investigation into the shooting death of Castile Thursday, a black Minnesota man who was shot and killed by police during a traffic stop. Both deaths were recorded in videos that have since circulated widely.
In the statement, Obama said that “to admit we’ve got a serious problem” does not contradict any respect or appreciation for police officers. Rather, the President said it accepts 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 mentioned recommendations from the White House Task Force on 21st Century Policing as a guide for law enforcement reform. The task force was created after grand juries in New York and Ferguson, Mo., declined to charge two white police officers in the deaths of unarmed black men.
“Regardless of the outcome of such investigations, what’s clear is that these fatal shootings are not isolated incidents,” Obama said in the statement. “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.”
Obama urged people to recognize the “anger, frustration and grief that so many Americans are feeling” and expressing through peaceful protests and vigils nationwide.
“Rather than fall into a predictable pattern of division and political posturing, let’s reflect on what we can do better. 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,” the President said.