US President Barack Obama has said that the fatal shootings of black men by police this week were “symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities” and all Americans should be troubled by these incidents of brutality.
“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,” Obama said.
Citing statistics that showed black people were far more likely to be arrested and shot by police, Obama said African-Americans are 30 per cent more likely than whites to be pulled over. “After being pulled over, African-Americans and Hispanics are three times more likely to be searched.”
“Last year, African-Americans were shot by police at more than twice the rate of whites. African-Americans are arrested at twice the rate of whites. African American defendants are 75 per cent more likely to be charged with offenses carrying mandatory minimums. They receive sentences that are almost 10 per cent longer than comparable whites arrested for the same crime,” he said after landing in Warsaw, Poland, to attend the NATO Summit, according to an official statement here.
“So that if you add it all up, the African American and Hispanic population, who make up only 30 per cent of the general population, make up more than half of the incarcerated population. Now, these are facts,” he said.
“And when incidents like this occur, there’s a big chunk of our fellow citizenry that feels as if because of the colour of their skin, they are not being treated the same. And that hurts. And that should trouble all of us,” Obama said.
“This is not just a black issue. It’s not just a Hispanic issue. This is an American issue that we should all care about. All fair-minded people should be concerned,” he said.
Obama spoke a day after the fatal shooting of a black man by the police in Minnesota. The incident was captured in a cell phone videos that quickly went viral and sparked renewed discussions about police brutality against African-Americans.
In another video-recorded killing incident, a black man was slayed after scuffled with two white police officers on the pavement outside a convenience store Louisiana on Tuesday.
Obama said these shootings were not just an issue of law enforcement, but were reflective of the values that the vast majority of law enforcement bring to the job.
“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,” he said.
“So 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,” he added.