'We have seen too many tragedies like this': Obama delivers emotional speech on recent police shootings

President Barack Obama on Thursday delivered an emotional statement on the recent police shootings of two black men.

Speaking from Warsaw, Poland, where he is attending a NATO summit, Obama addressed the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota

“We have seen too many tragedies like this,” he said.

“These are not isolated incidents,” Obama added, before citing several disturbing statistics that paint a picture of police practices in the US:

  • African-Americans are 30% more likely than whites to be pulled over by the police.
  • They 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 receive sentences that are 10% longer than those handed down to whites.

“Because of the colour of their skin, they are not being treated the same, and that hurts,” Obama said. “This is not just a black issue or a Hispanic issue — this is an American issue.”

The president also had words of support for police officers.

“We know you have a tough job, we mourn those in uniform that are protecting us, who lose their lives,” he said.

Obama’s words followed a statement released earlier Thursday on Facebook in which he said:

“All Americans should be deeply troubled by the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota,” the statement read. “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.”

Protests have kicked off in cities nationwide following the latest police-involved shootings. Demonstrators have criticised the killings, which statistics show disproportionately befall black civilians during encounters with police.

The recent shootings follow a long list of fatal encounters involving civilians and the police. More than 500 people have been killed in police-involved shootings in 2016, as noted in an extensive report by The Washington Post.

As a result, civil-rights leaders, politicians, and community activists have called for greater oversight of police agencies nationwide — citing the need for body cameras for officers and pushing for independent reviews and prosecutions of officers involved in police killings.

Obama ended his speech on this note: “We can do better. And I believe we will do better.”

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