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President Obama Hosts a Conversation on Our Criminal Justice System

Summary: 
President Obama is hosting a conversation on our criminal justice system and called on all Americans to be a part of it.

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Updated July 13, 2016:

Watch President Obama's remarks following the discussion on community policing and criminal justice:

Following the event, the President reflected on the discussion in a Facebook post:

"Black Lives Matter activists. Police chiefs. State and local officials. Latino leaders. Representatives from Baton Rouge, St. Paul, Dallas, and more. Those are just some of the folks who came together today at the White House to talk, to listen, and to forge a path forward. Yesterday in Dallas, I said that in the aftermath of tragedies like we’ve seen lately, we have to be able to talk about our differences. We have to be open and honest -- not just within our own circles, but also with those who offer different perspectives. And that’s what we hoped to do today.

"We discussed ways that all sides of our communities -- activists, police, local officials -- can work together to make sure that we can both protect the peace and our first amendment rights at protests. We talked about how we can effectively police neighborhoods ravaged by violence, improve law enforcement hiring practices, and make sure we’re not asking our police to do too much. And we talked about how, when tragedies do occur, we can act in a way that honors all members of our communities.

"I’ll admit, it was a candid discussion -- challenging at times. But it couldn’t have been more important. Tomorrow, I’ll continue the discussion with a town hall here in Washington -- and I hope you tune in at 8pm ET on the ABC News Facebook page.

"But here’s the thing -- you don’t need television cameras or a room at the White House to hold this kind of discussion. All of us have the power to make change in our own communities. So I want to ask you -- no matter who you are or where you live -- to do whatever you can to foster these conversations and find solutions for your community.

"That’s the path out of moments like these. Not to withdraw, or shout each other down, but to reach out to each other -- even if it’s difficult -- and find some common ground. I know it’s possible -- I saw it happen this afternoon."


This week, President Obama will bring together voices for a conversation on addressing racial disparities in our criminal justice system. Today, he took to Facebook to call on all Americans to be part of that conversation. Read the President's post, then submit your ideas above.

"Last week's tragedies in Dallas, Falcon Heights, and Baton Rouge shook our conscience and left us with more questions than answers.  It’s a week that laid bare some of our country’s toughest, most uncomfortable challenges.  

"But I reject the idea that these issues are somehow too big for us – that America is too divided to find common ground.  As I’ve said, I know that we can honor the incredible courage and service of our police officers – and also recognize the racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system.  There’s no contradiction there.  And if we are going to come together to solve these problems, we have to understand that.  So we’ll have to talk to each other.  We’ll have to listen to each other.  And we’ll have to see each other as equal parts of the American family.

"That’s why on Wednesday, I'll host a conversation at the White House to discuss how we can move forward together.  We’ll hear from individuals from around the country – civil rights activists, law enforcement, academics, mayors, and more – about ways we can both keep people safe and ensure justice for all Americans.  Because progress is possible.  That’s what we’ve seen through my Administration’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing – and so we’ll share solutions from communities that have already found ways to build trust and reduce disparities.  

"Going forward, I want to hear ideas from even more Americans about how we can address these challenges together as one nation.  That means you.  Whether you're a police officer working to keep our communities safe, an activist marching and organizing, or anyone else, you can share your story and ideas here: http://go.wh.gov/VDPvKz. I hope you do – because that’s one way we can find common purpose and together, we can build a better America."


Learn more:

Watch President Obama's statement on the attacks on law enforcement in Dallas, Texas.

Watch President Obama speak on the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.