Obama says no one is 'entirely immune' to racism in wake of Dallas shooting

The president was speaking in Dallas about the police shootings - the 11th time he has talked about a mass shooting in just over seven years 

 

Rachael Revesz
New York
Tuesday 12 July 2016 20:34
Comments
Obama speaks at Dallas memorial service

President Barack Obama has called for Americans to “sustain unity” following the murder of five police officers in Dallas and heightening racial tensions across the country.

“We’re here to honour the memory and mourn the loss of five fellow Americans,” he said, “to grieve with their loved ones, to support their community, to pray for the wounded, and to try to find some meaning amidst our sorrow."

The president cut short his trip to Poland and flew to Dallas with First Lady Michelle Obama to attend the memorial ceremony.

Dallas police officers Lorne Ahrens, Michael Smith, Brent Thompson, Michael Krol and Patrick Zamarripa were killed whilst overseeing a peaceful protest against the deaths of two black men in Baton Rouge and Minnesota.

The president's speech focused on racial divisions, on police feeling “unfairly maligned” and African Americans feeling “unfairly targeted”.

He talked of how black people are more likely to receive the death penalty or be stopped and searched by police.

“None of us is entirely innocent [from racism],” he said. “No institution is entirely immune. And that includes our police department. We know this.”

Hundreds Attend Vigil for Officers Killed by Dallas Sniper

In a state where the governor Greg Abbott is strongly pro-guns, Mr Obama’s disparaging comments about lax gun laws were saved for more than half way through his speech.

“We flood communities with so many guns that it’s easier for a teenager to get their hands on a glock than a computer or a book,” he said. "Then we tell the police: you’re the social worker, you’re the teacher, you’re the parent, you’re the drug councillor.”

“We ask the police to do too much, and we ask too little of ourselves," he said.

He highlighted Shetamia Taylor, the woman who got shot while protecting her four sons amid gun fire, and how one of her 12-year-old sons wants to be a police officer when he grows up.

“That’s the America I know,” said Mr Obama amid a standing ovation.

“Those who don’t like the phrase 'Black Lives Matter' - even they should hear the pain of Alton Sterling’s family,” he said, referring to the black man who was killed in Baton Rouge.

Community mourns Dallas deaths

He described Philando Castile, another man killed by police, as a “gentle soul”, whose life mattered to many people of all races.

He thanked the Dallas mayor, Mike Rawlings, and the Dallas chief of police, David Brown, who has served over 30 years in the police force and who has lost his partner, his brother and son to violence in the city.

“Thank you for your steady leadership and for your powerful example,” Mr Obama told them.

Police chief Brown quoted his favorite song lyrics for the fallen police officers and their families.

“Until the ocean covers every mountain high, I’ll be loving you,” he said.

Texas senator John Cornyn also expressed gratitude to the former president and Texan George W Bush and his wife Laura in the way they “inspired” Americans to unite against hatred during the days after 9/11.

“None of us were prepared or could be prepared for such an ambush with malice,” said Mr Bush. “The shock of this evil has not faded. At times it seems the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together.”

“Americans have a great advantage. We only have to remember our values,” he added.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in