President Barack Obama shut down criticism of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement on Thursday, arguing that critics may be misunderstanding the point of the group’s name.
“I know that there’s some who have criticised even the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ as if the notion is as if other lives don’t matter,” Obama said during an ABC town hall event in Washington.
“I think it’s also important for us to understand that the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ simply refers to the notion that there’s a specific vulnerability for African-Americans that needs to be addressed.”
The recent deaths of two black men at the hands of police have prompted demonstrations around the country, including an otherwise peaceful one that ended violently when a gunman fatally shot five police officers in Dallas. The violence has sparked outrage over racial injustice and the treatment of police.
“We get ‘All Lives Matter’ or ‘Blue Lives Matter,” Obama said, citing two popular counter-slogans used to discredit Black Lives Matter. “It’s not meant to suggest that other lives don’t matter.”
“It’s to suggest that other folks aren’t experiencing this particular vulnerability and so we shouldn’t get too caught up somehow in this notion that people who are asking for fair treatment are somehow automatically anti-police or trying to only look out for black lives as opposed to others. I think we have to be careful about playing that game because, obviously, that’s not what is intended.”
Obama also acknowledged the difficult task police officers face, and called for communities and local police departments to work together.
“I think that the place to start is for everybody to recognise that we need police officers,” Obama said. “And we need those police officers to be embraced by the community.”
It’s not the first time Obama has attempted to clarify the meaning of the phrase “Black Lives Matter.” And with a recent study suggesting that America’s racial divide is growing, it may not be the last, either.
— ABC News (@ABC) July 15, 2016
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