President Obama addressed the deaths of two black men who were killed in police shootings this week -- incidents that sparked outrage and demands for justice around the country -- and said the incidents were "not isolated" but rather "symptomatic of a of a broader set of racial disparities."
"We have seen tragedies like this too many times," the president said in Warsaw.
"All of us as Americans should be troubled by these shootings," he continued. "These are not isolated incidents, they are symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system."
Alton Sterling was shot and killed by a police officer in Baton Rouge, Louisiana earlier this week, and Philando Castile was killed in a separate incident by a police officer in Minnesota last night.
Both incidents -- parts of which were captured on witness video -- sparked outrage. The Baton Rouge shooting was referred to the Department of Justice for Investigation and the investigation of the Minnesota shooting is being monitored by the DOJ.
The president went on to list a number of statistics showing black Americans are subject to disparities under the nation's law enforcement system.
“When people say black lives matter, it doesn’t mean blue lives don’t matter,” the president said, adding that it’s instead “about us recognizing there is a particular burden placed on a group of our citizens.”
"This is not just a black issue, this is not just a Hispanic issue, this is an American issue that we should all care about," the president said, noting that when incidents like this occur there are segments of the country that feel that because of "the color of their skin they are not being treated the same, and that hurts and that should trouble all of us."
The president urged the country not to fall into an unproductive political debate that pits criminal justice reform against support for law enforcement –- saying the two aren’t mutually exclusive.
“To be for these issues is not to be against law enforcement,” he said.
“We know you have a tough job,” the president said, addressing law enforcement directly.
“We mourn those in uniform who are protecting us who lose their lives,” he continued. "I’ve hugged family members who’ve lost loved ones doing the right thing, I know how much it hurts…there is no contradiction between us supporting law enforcement.”
“To be concerned about these issues is not political correctness, it’s just being American,” he said.