While demonstrators marched across the country to protest the latest slayings of black men by police, President Obama spoke from a NATO summit in Warsaw on Thursday to address the reality of bias in the criminal justice system, the urgency for reform and the common interest all Americans have in demanding change.
“All of us as Americans should be troubled by the shootings,” said Obama, according to The Hill. “These are not isolated incidents. They’re symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system.”
Obama then offered a series of statistics illustrating how people of color are disproportionately pulled over, searched and killed by police before making the case that reform is in the best interest of law enforcement and citizens alike.
“If communities are mistrustful of the police, that makes those law enforcement officers who are doing a great job, and are doing the right thing, it makes their lives harder,” said Obama. “So, when people say ‘black lives matter,’ it doesn’t mean ‘blue lives’ don’t matter, it just means all lives matter. But right now, the big concern is the fact that data shows black folks are more vulnerable to these kinds of incidents.”
Obama also called upon those who dismissed protests and outrage over the killings as “political correctness” to ask themselves, “What if this happened to someone in your family? How would you feel?”
“To be concerned about these issues is not political correctness, it’s just being American and wanting to live up to our best and highest ideals,” he concluded. “We’ve gotta tackle those things. We can do better. And I believe we will do better.”