Press Releases

Some Reflections On Violence In America This Week

f t # e
Washington, July 8, 2016 | comments

Last night in our telephone town hall, Robin from Arlington asked me what I thought about Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, black men shot by police officers in St. Paul, MN, and Baton Rouge, LA.

Here is what I told Robin.

Their deaths made me incredibly sad. I didn’t want to watch the videos, but I feel a responsibility to try to understand what happened.

I’m pleased that the governors of both states immediately called for Department of Justice investigations. I’m also pleased that the shootings were videotaped, and I have long called for body-cameras for every police officer, nationwide. They are important for transparency, and for accountability.

Black lives matter.

These were not isolated events. They were part of a larger pattern, and we need to do all that we can to counter this trend. We need to have better training for officials to diffuse potentially hostile situations without lethal violence.

We have come a long way since John Lewis marched over Edmund Pettus Bridge, but we still have a long way to go.

A few hours after I said these words, we were confronted with the horrible attack on law enforcement in Dallas, where one civilian and 12 police officers were shot, five fatally. These courageous officers charged towards gunfire to put themselves between danger and people engaged in a peaceful protest.

When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said “hate begets hate, violence begets violence,” he was appealing to the better angels of our nature to reject violence and hate.

As we try to make sense of so much tragic violence, we would do well to reflect upon the wisdom of his words.

f t # e