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After deadly shootings, Obama says police must root out bias

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    President Barack Obama makes a statement on the police shootings after arriving in Warsaw, Poland. Obama traveled to Poland to attend the NATO summit and then will travel on to Spain.

WASHINGTON >> President Barack Obama called on American law enforcement to root out bias in its ranks and said all Americans should be troubled by frequent police shootings of blacks and Hispanics, insisting that fatal incidents in Minnesota and Louisiana are not isolated.

Adding his voice to a growing public outcry, Obama said the shootings were symptoms of a “broader set of racial disparities” in the justice system that aren’t being fixed quickly enough.

He ticked through a list of statistics he said showed concerns about bias are real: African-Americans being shot by police or arrested at more than twice the rate of white Americans.

“When incidents like this occur, there’s a big chunk of our fellow citizenry that feels as if it’s because of the color of their skin, they are not being treated the same,” Obama said. “And that hurts. And that should trouble all of us.”

Obama’s diagnosis of the problem reflected a growing sense of frustration and willingness to speak out publicly about police killings despite the risk of making law enforcement officers feel under attack.

The president spoke in a hastily arranged appearance at a hotel in Warsaw just after arriving in Poland for a NATO summit. He largely echoed comments he made earlier in the day in a Facebook post as the two deaths were increasingly capturing the country’s attention.

In Louisiana, 37-year-old Alton Sterling was fatally shot Tuesday as he tussled with two white officers outside a convenience store in a predominantly black neighborhood. The shooting was caught on tape and went viral online.

The next day in Minnesota, 32-year-old Philando Castile was shot to death during a traffic stop. His girlfriend posted video of the aftermath live on Facebook, saying he had been shot “for no apparent reason” while reaching for his wallet, as an officer had asked.

Though the White House has sought to avoid commenting on specific cases before all facts are known, in this case Obama weighed in while both shootings are still being investigated, including a civil rights probe by the U.S. Justice Department into the Louisiana incident.

Similar statements about other shootings have stoked tensions with law enforcement, including with FBI Director James Comey, who has suggested the intense public focus on police officers’ conduct, fueled by caught-on-camera moments, may be inhibiting officers as they try to protect their communities.

Aiming to pre-empt that concern, Obama said that speaking out about the issue is not an attack on police. He emphasized that he and other Americans appreciate the risks police officers take and mourn officers who die in the line of duty.

“When people say ‘black lives matter,’ that doesn’t mean blue lives don’t matter,” Obama said, referring to uniformed officers. “That just means all lives matter.”

Yet despite Obama’s efforts to bridge misunderstandings between African-Americans and the police, the problem clearly persists. In 2014, Obama created a task force to develop modern policing guidelines, and he urged local communities and policing agencies to implement those recommendations drafted by the Justice Department.

Obama said if anything good could come from recent deadly incidents, it would be that more parts of the country would adopt those recommendations.

“Change has been too slow,” Obama said. “We have to have a greater sense of urgency about this.”

Obama has wrestled for much of his presidency with the policing issue, the “Black Lives Matter” movement and his role as the first black president in responding to them. After the issue burst into the spotlight in 2012 with the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida, Obama insisted the U.S. take the issue seriously and added, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”

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Associated Press writer Kathleen Hennessey in Warsaw, Poland, contributed to this report.

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Reach Josh Lederman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP

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      • Wanna know why cops nationwide are losing Obama’s war against policemen?

        Could it be because our colleges and universities are pushing the benefits of victim-ology for all it is worth ?

        UBD judge:

        http://dailycaller.com/2016/07/05/nc-state-calling-america-a-land-of-opportunity-is-a-micro-aggression/#ixzz4Do9nWDVZ

        A “micro-aggression tool” published by North Carolina State University’s faculty ombuds informs the school’s employees that phrases such as “America is a land of opportunity” or “I believe the most qualified person should get the job,” are “micro-aggressions” and shouldn’t be used.

        The tool was published last month by NC State faculty ombuds Roy Baroff. In an accompanying blog post on June 29, Baroff — who did not return a request for comment — said the topic of micro-aggressions “is important as we seek to build a more collegial environment and based on the concerns that faculty members bring to the NC State Faculty Ombuds Office.”

        The tool defines micro-aggressions as “the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target people based solely upon their marginalized group membership.”

        The tool provides several examples of micro-aggressions.

        One example micro-aggression, listed under the theme of the “myth of meritocracy,” is the phrase “I think the most qualified person should get the job.” The “message” hidden in this micro-aggression, according to the tool, is: “People of color are given extra unfair benefits because of their race.”

        Another example micro-aggression in the same theme is the phrase “Gender plays no part in who we hire,” which apparently communicates the hidden message: “The playing field is even so if women can not make it, the problem is with them.”

        “America is the land of opportunity,” is another micro-aggression that perpetuates the “myth of meritocracy,” as is the phrase, “Everyone can succeed in this society, if they work hard enough.” According to the tool, these micro-aggressions communicate the message that “People of color are lazy and/or incompetent and need to work harder.”

        The phrase “America is a melting pot” is another example micro-aggression, listed under the theme of “color blindness.” So too is the phrase “There is only one race, the human race.” According to the tool, these micro-aggressions contain the hidden “message” of “Denying the significance of a person of color’s racial/ethnic experience and history.”

        The tool was adapted from Derald Wing Sue’s 2010 book “Micro-aggressions in Everyday Life.” In the book, Sue claimed that a hypothetical “friendly neighbor” wishing a Jewish woman “Merry Christmas” would be a clear micro-aggression. Sue also called it ironic that “hate crimes are illegal, but micro-aggressions are not!”

        • Dude! Do you really think anyone is going to read a post as long as yours?

    • >>>President Pinocchio

      When you talk like that, it seems painfully obvious that you simply hate this man. Nothing he can do would change your mind. So, whatever you say after that is negated by this irrational bias.

  • Is it really based on racial bias or is it simply taking statistics and doing his own spin versus understanding the what’s behind these statistics.

      • No, Keep Black on Black crime as it is. I’d hate to see the Black on Black crime expand out of Chicago into America’s suburbs. Like ISIS Chicago’s crime is the JV team

    • Spot on! Under his watch, America has become much more divided. Obama’s comments fuel the fire for folks to shoot police officers. It can be expected that our police will take a passive approach to responding and handling situations, e.g. don’t respond quickly, back away instead of chasing criminals who hint at being violent, etc. Very disappointed with Obama.

  • “When incidents like this occur, there’s a big chunk of our fellow citizenry that feels as if it’s because of the color of their skin, they are not being treated the same,” Obama said.

    there he goes again, playing the race card.

    but, it’s hiliar that was chief advocate for “bringing to heel” inner city black youths she called “super predators” who had “no conscience, no empathy, . . . ”

    it was hiliar who rallied for increased arrests and extended sentencing for these “super predators.”

    a real racist, takes action to remove the personal freedoms of those she fears. hiliar, a real racist, manipulated the public’s fear and intentionally caused a bill to be passed that punished black youths with increased arrests and extended sentencing. that’s how a real racist acts.

  • Obama is quick to blame others for his failures. He needs to root out the bias in African Americans against White. No jobs, no future because of him they take to drugs and crime.

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