Obama to Honor 5 Dallas Officers Shot by Man Out for Revenge

Jul 13, 2016, 02:59

President Obama spent much of Monday at the White House writing what will likely be a pivotal speech of his presidency, to be delivered today in Dallas, Texas, at a memorial service for the five police officers slain by a crazed gunman.

In what has become an unwelcome but regular duty of his presidency, Obama was preparing to address an interfaith memorial service in Dallas for the officers.

Obama stood next to five empty chairs for the white police officers killed last week by a black man seeking vengeance for police killings.

Mr Bush, who settled in Dallas after leaving office in 2009, is to scheduled to speak at the service as well. Dallas Police Chief David Brown told the crowd to serve their community and join the police force to be part of the solution.

The president also argued that protesters working for police reform "do a disservice to the very cause of justice that they claim to promote", if they paint all officers as bigoted.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings opened the ceremony with powerful words, saying unity is what's needed to fight against violence and separatism.

Obama acknowledged that Americans are unsettled by another mass shooting and are seeking answers to the violence that has sparked protests in cities and highlighted the nation's persistent racial divide.

In Dallas, a black trauma surgeon Brian Williams, who treated several police officers, gave poignant voice to the fissures that have shaken the country. "Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions".

"We do not want the unity of grief or the unity of fear".

"We do have control over how we respond to the world", he said.

"America, we know that bias remains".

The Obamas, Bidens and former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, are seated on stage.

Funerals for the officers - Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Lorne Ahrens and Michael Smith - are ongoing.

Dallas police officers and other first responders will be among those filling the 2,000 seats in the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, along with the families of the officers killed and injured in last week's attack and two civilians who were wounded, city spokeswoman Patricia Blasquez told CNN. However, many Republicans were quick to turn against Obama for suggesting that the easy access to guns was leading to the loss of innocent lives, even as they termed it an incident of "domestic terrorism".

"I'm proud of our police officers for being so professional, and that's why it's so ironic and doubly painful to know that the ones who have been doing the best ended up on the short end of the stick", Rawlings said.

U.S. Army Reserve veteran Micah Johnson gunned down the officers on Thursday in retribution for police killings of black people, before being killed by an explosive-laden robot sent in by police.

Earnest said Monday that Obama had "his deeply rooted feelings" on the topic.

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is among the lawmakers accompanying Obama aboard Air Force One as he travels to Dallas for the service. The White House said Obama called the families of Alton Sterling, shot in Baton Rouge, and Philando Castile, shot in Minnesota, on Tuesday to express condolences on behalf of his family and the nation.

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