President Obama said Thursday that the Black Lives Matter movement has helped to highlight legitimate issues black people are facing in the U.S., and that Americans "have to take it seriously."
"The African American community's not just making this up. It's not just something being politicized. It's incumbent on people to realize that. And it's incumbent on activists to take seriously the job police have," Obama said about the movement.
Obama also stressed that despite efforts to paint it that way, the Black Lives Matter movement is not opposed to law enforcement and is not inciting violence against law enforcement. Instead, it's a movement raising "legitimate" concerns about how black communities are being treated by everyone from police to fellow Americans.
The Black Lives Matter movement is not suggesting that "no one else's lives matter, rather what they were suggesting was there is a specific problem that is happening in the African American community that's not happening in other communities," Obama said. "That is a legitimate issue we've got to address."
The Black Lives Matter movement first began as a hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter on Twitter after George Zimmerman was acquitted in 2013 for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida. It gained momentum after the deaths of Michael Brown, John Crawford and Eric Garner in 2014, all at the hands of white police officers.