President Obama said in a Facebook post on Thursday that he and First Lady Michelle Obama “recognize the anger, frustration, and grief that so many Americans are feeling” in the wake of two police-involved killings that have sparked widespread protests.
“All Americans should be deeply troubled by the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota,” Obama wrote in a post on Facebook. “We've seen such tragedies far too many times, and our hearts go out to the families and communities who've suffered such a painful loss.”
The president said he is “constrained in commenting on the particular facts of these cases,” but is “encouraged” that the U.S. Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation into the death of Sterling.
“But regardless of the outcome of such investigations, what's clear is that these fatal shootings are not isolated incidents,” Obama noted. “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 said that realization “in no way contradicts our respect and appreciation for the vast majority of police officers.” But, he wrote, “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.”
The president highlighted his administration’s previous efforts to examine the relationship between local law enforcement and communities with his task force on 21st-century policing, which issued recommendations in May 2015 on how to improve community policing.
“So even as officials continue to look into this week's tragic shootings, we also need communities to address the underlying fissures that lead to these incidents, and to implement those ideas that can make a difference,” he wrote. “That's how we'll keep our communities safe. And that's how we can start restoring confidence that all people in this great nation are equal before the law.”
“Rather than fall into a predictable pattern of division and political posturing, let's reflect on what we can do better,” Obama continued. “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.”