President Barack Obama addressed the rise of the controversial “Black Lives Matter” movement Thursday, saying that “all lives matter” but also stressing the black community faces specific challenges.
During a forum on criminal justice reform at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, the president called Black Lives Matter a “social media movement.”
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
“People say ‘all lives matter,’ and supposedly somehow Black Lives Matter was reverse racism or suggesting that other people’s lives don’t matter or police officers’ lives don’t matter,” Obama said. “Whenever we get bogged down in that kind of discussion, we know where that goes.”
“Everybody understands that all lives matter. Everybody wants strong, effective law enforcement. Everybody wants their kids to be safe when they are walking across the street,” the president said. “Nobody wants to see police officers who are doing their jobs fairly hurt. Everybody understands it’s a dangerous job.”
He further went on to say why he thought the phrase Black Lives Matters is used.
“The reason the organizers use the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ is not because they were suggesting no one else’s lives matter,” Obama further explained. “Rather what they were suggesting is there was a specific problem that is happening in the African-American community that is not happening in other communities. That is a legitimate issue that we’ve got to address.”
“There is a specific concern as to whether African-Americans are sometimes treated in different jurisdictions or subject to excessive force more frequently,” Obama said. “I think it’s important for those who are concerned about that to back it up with data, not anecdote, to not paint with a broad brush, to understand that the overwhelming majority of law enforcement is doing the right thing and wants to do the right thing; to recognize that police officers have a really tough job, and we’re sending them into really tough neighborhoods, sometimes to make split second decisions, so you shouldn’t be too sanctimonious about situations that sometimes can be ambiguous. But, having said all that, we as a society, particularly given our history, have to take this seriously. One of the ways of avoiding all this and getting lost in the politics of the moment is stepping back and understanding that the African-American community is not making this up.”