On Thursday President Obama said he was “deeply troubled” by the fatal police shootings of two black men this week and called on the nation to come together to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
Obama's post comes in the wake of the police shooting of Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Tuesday and Philando Castile of St. Paul, Minnesota on Wednesday.
“What's clear is that these fatal shootings are not isolated incidents,” Obama wrote. “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.”
Sterling, 37, was fatally shot multiple times by police outside a convenience store where he had been selling CDs. Police were responding to a 911 call that a man with a gun had threatened someone in the parking lot.
Footage of the shooting showed Baton Rouge police appear to remove a gun from Sterling’s pocket after shooting him multiple times as he lay on his back. The incident is under federal investigation.
Castile was shot after being pulled over by a police officer in St. Paul, Minnesota over a broken tail light.
Diamond Reynolds, the girlfriend of Philando Castile is consoled by a minister outside the governor's residence in St. Paul, Minneapolis.
Jim Mone / AP
His girlfriend, Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds who broadcast the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook Live, said the officer asked Castile for his license and registration and as he reached into his pocket for his ID he told the officer he was carrying a licensed firearm. It was then that the officer shot Castile in the arm.
Obama wrote that to admit the nation has a serious problem in no way contradicts the respect and appreciation we have for the vast majority of police officers who put their lives on the line every 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,” Obama wrote.
As officials look into this week's shootings, Obama called on communities to address the underlying fissures that lead to these incidents and implement ideas that can make a difference.
“In the meantime, all Americans should recognize the anger, frustration, and grief that so many Americans are feeling — feelings that are being expressed in peaceful protests and vigils,” Obama wrote. “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.”