President Obama Talks Alton Sterling, Philando Castile Killings in Facebook Post

Source: AP
Source: AP

President Obama posted a statement on Facebook Thursday to address the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile this week.

"But regardless of the outcome of such investigations, what's clear is that these fatal shootings are not isolated incidents," he 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."

On Tuesday, Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old selling CDs outside of a food mart in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was tackled to the ground and fatally shot in the chest and back. Then on Wednesday, Philando Castile was in a vehicle with his fiancé Diamond Reynolds and her 4-year-old daughter when police fatally shot him at a traffic stop. Reynolds livestreamed the whole ordeal following the shooting on her Facebook page.

In his Facebook post, Obama reassures the American public that acknowledging the flaws and errors of the police system does not interfere with the admiration of police officers.  

"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."

He then acknowledges the many emotions and sentiments expressed by Americans frustrated by the killing of these two men — and further explains that he, along with first lady Michelle Obama, share those sentiments.

"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. Michelle and I share those feelings. 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."

This statement differs from the one issued by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest in May 2015. In a daily White House briefing, Earnest told a reporter that videos revealing police officers using excessive force and/or killing individuals are "isolated incidents."

While Obama's sentiment offers condolences to those impacted and affected by the killing of Sterling and Castile, it's also important to note that he refrained from mentioning their race.

You can read Obama's full statement here.

Read more:
• The Killing of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge by Police Has Sparked Outrage on Social Media
• One Tweet Exposes the Racist Hypocrisy of Gun Control Debates in the United States
 23 Everyday Actions Punishable by Death if You're Black in America

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Sarah A. Harvard

Sarah is a staff writer covering religion, race and politics. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Atlantic, Slate, The Huffington Post, TeenVogue, and VICE. Send tips and feedback: sharvard@mic.com

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