Obama: People Saying 'Black Lives Matter' Don't Mean 'Blue Lives Don't Matter'
President Obama delivered a statement about the reports of police shootings of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota this week, while in Warsaw for the last NATO summit of his presidency.
"We have seen tragedies like this too many times," Obama said. He expressed his confidence in the Justice Department's ability to conduct thorough investigations.
"All of us as Americans should be troubled by these shootings because these are not isolated incidents. They're symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system...When incidents like this occur, there's a big chunk of our citizenry that feels like, because of the color of their skin, they're not being treated the same. And that hurts."
Obama said the disparity is not just a black or a Hispanic issue. "This is an American issue."
The president acknowledged the difficulty of police officers' work and said that being concerned about the issue is "not to be against law enforcement."
“When people say 'Black Lives Matter,' that doesn’t mean blue lives don’t matter, it just means all lives matter, but right now the big concern is the fact that the data shows black folks are more vulnerable to these kinds of incidents. This isn’t a matter of us comparing the value of lives.”
“To be concerned about these issues is not 'politically correct,'" he said. "It is to be an American.”
The president closed by saying the country could do better on a host of issues disproportionately affecting blacks and Hispanics.
"And doing better involves not just addressing potential bias in the criminal justice system; it's recognizing too often we're asking police to man the barricades in communities that have been forgotten by all of us for way too long, in terms of substandard schools and inadequate jobs and a lack of opportunity. We've got to tackle those things. We can do better. And I believe we will do better."
Watch the remarks above, plus reaction from the Special Report panel.