President Obama on Thursday delivered a vigorous defense of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has been criticized by some for its exclusive focus on African-Americans and aggressive tactics.
The president said Black Lives Matter activists are focusing on problems that exist only in black communities, such as routine police brutality, calling it a “legitimate issue that we’ve got to address.”
“The African-American community is not just making this up,” Obama said during a forum on criminal justice reform hosted by The Marshall Project. “It is real, and there is a history behind it and we have to take it seriously.”
Obama pointed out that many critics were quick to blame the Black Lives Matter movement for fomenting anti-police sentiment. But he said it’s true purpose is to raise concerns about issues related to practices like stop-and-frisk and the use of excessive force.
“I think everybody understands ‘all lives matter,’ ” the president said. “Everybody wants strong, effective law enforcement, everybody wants their kids to be safe when they’re walking to school, nobody wants to see police officers, who are doing their job fairly, hurt.”
Obama’s comments came amid a push by the White House and bipartisan members of Congress to overhaul the nation’s criminal justice system. Obama said he is looking at ways to make the system “smart, just, effective and fair.”
The White House has sought input from members of the Black Lives Matter movement, which grew out of the unrest surrounding police killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Mo., and other cities around the country.
Read more: The Hill