PolitiFact annotates Barack Obama's statement on shootings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile
Despite being in Warsaw, Poland, for a meeting of the NATO military alliance, President Barack Obama offered two urgent statements late Thursday and early Friday on tragedies back home.
The first statement mourned the officer-involved deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La., and Philando Castile, in Falcon Heights, Minn. The deaths of two African-American men at the hands of police officers revived concerns about a string of high-profile deaths since a similar incident in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014.
The second statement mourned the killing of at least five police officers and the shooting of seven others in Dallas. In that incident, a gunman opened fire on police protecting peaceful marchers who were protesting the death toll of African Americans at the hands of police.
We didn’t see any checkable facts in Obama’s statement in response to the Dallas shootings, but his earlier remarks on the deaths of Sterling and Castile included more than half a dozen statistics on racial disparities in crime and punishment.
" African Americans are 30 percent more likely than whites to be pulled over," Obama said. "After being pulled over, African Americans and Hispanics 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 are arrested at twice the rate of whites. African American defendants are 75 percent more likely to be charged with offenses carrying mandatory minimums. They receive sentences that are almost 10 percent longer than comparable whites arrested for the same crime."
He continued, "If you add it all up, the African American and Hispanic population, who make up only 30 percent of the general population, make up more than half of the incarcerated population."
Using our platform on Medium.com, we have annotated these statistical assertions by sourcing the evidence and informally assessing their accuracy and any shortcomings. In general, we found Obama’s statements to be well-supported.
We used the Medium platform because PolitiFact has been given a Knight Foundation grant to fact-check claims by politicians posted on Medium. Readers can view our annotations for Obama’s speech -- and for a wide variety of other Medium posts by politicians -- if they sign up to follow PolitiFact on Medium. We will continue annotating and fact-checking Medium posts at least through the November election.