Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) said today that if a black man killed by police during a traffic stop yesterday had been white, he would not have been shot. Dayton, a great-grandson of the founder of the Target stores, said that the response of St. Paul police was "way over" what was necessary. 
 
Philando Castile and his female companion, Diamond Reynolds, were pulled over by police for a broken taillight yesterday in the Falcon Heights suburbs of St. Paul. A police officer shot him several times while he sat in his car. Reynolds live-streamed video to Facebook moments after the shooting. The video showed Castile’s bleeding body slumped in the front seat of the car.
 
Today, President Barack Obama said he shares the "anger, frustration and grief that so many Americans are feeling" over this incident, as well as another contentious incident. On July 5, two police officers allegedly shot to death a black man in Baton Rouge who was selling CDs in front of a convenience store. That incident is now being investigated by the Department of Justice, at the request of the local prosecutor. 
 
In a Facebook post today, Obama named both of the victims but said he would not comment on the specifics of either case but added, "these fatal shootings are not isolated incidents."
 
 As for the Minnesota governor, Dayton said no one should be killed for a simple infraction such as a broken taillight or while sitting in their car. He added that he was "deeply, deeply offended" by the death. Dayton claimed that he spoke with several black citizens today who told him that they have experienced being pulled over, "singled out and treated very differently because of their race." 
 
"Would this have happened if those passengers, the driver or the passengers, were white? I don't think it would have," he said. "So I'm forced to confront, and I think all of us in Minnesota are forced to confront, this kind of racism exists and that it's incumbent upon all of us to vow that we're going to do that whatever we can to see that it doesn't happen, that it doesn't continue to happen," he said.
 
Here below is a full text of Obama's statement on Facebook:
 
All Americans should be deeply troubled by the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. We've seen such tragedies far too many times, and our hearts go out to the families and communities who've suffered such a painful loss.
 
Although I am constrained in commenting on the particular facts of these cases, I am encouraged that the U.S. Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation in Baton Rouge, and I have full confidence in their professionalism and their ability to conduct a thoughtful, thorough, and fair inquiry.
 
But regardless of the outcome of such investigations, what's clear is that these fatal shootings are not isolated incidents. They are symptomatic of the broader challenges within our criminal justice system, the racial disparities that appear across the system year after year, and the resulting lack of trust that exists between law enforcement and too many of the communities they serve.
 
To admit we've got a serious problem in no way contradicts our respect and appreciation for the vast majority of police officers who put their lives on the line to protect us every single day. It is to say that, as a nation, we can and must do better to institute the best practices that reduce the appearance or reality of racial bias in law enforcement.
 
That's why, two years ago, I set up a Task Force on 21st Century Policing that convened police officers, community leaders, and activists. Together, they came up with detailed recommendations on how to improve community policing. So even as officials continue to look into this week's tragic shootings, we also need communities to address the underlying fissures that lead to these incidents, and to implement those ideas that can make a difference. That's how we'll keep our communities safe. And that's how we can start restoring confidence that all people in this great nation are equal before the law.
 
In the meantime, all Americans should recognize the anger, frustration, and grief that so many Americans are feeling -- feelings that are being expressed in peaceful protests and vigils. Michelle and I share those feelings. Rather than fall into a predictable pattern of division and political posturing, let's reflect on what we can do better. Let's come together as a nation, and keep faith with one another, in order to ensure a future where all of our children know that their lives matter.

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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