US President Barack Obama gathered with politicians, police officers
and families of the fallen in Dallas to call for unity in the wake of a
shocking slaying of five police officers by a black man who said he
wanted revenge for the killings of blacks by police.
“We’re here to find some meaning amidst our sorrow,” Obama told those at the service.
President “I understand how Americans are feeling. But Dallas, I’m here
to say we must reject such despair… I’m here to insist that we are
not as divided as we seem.”
Obama said of the fallen officers: “These men and their families shared a commitment to something larger than themselves.”
He said that they “were upholding the constitutional rights of this country”.
Earlier, the Dallas police chief recited lyrics from Stevie Wonder’s song As to the families of the five officers.
Chief David Brown said that he often would find himself at a
loss for words as a young man trying to get dates, and would use lyrics
to express himself.
That’s what he did at the service for the families of those who died.
said, among other lyrics: “Just as hate knows love’s the cure, you can
rest your mind assure that I’ll be loving you always.”
Brown received a long, loud standing ovation from those in attendance.
“The soul of our city was pierced,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said, as he welcomed Obama to a memorial service.
group had assembled because to combat “a common disease” of violence
and honor those who fight it, “our men and women in blue, our
peacemakers in blue”.
Rawlings spoke steps from five empty chairs and five portraits of the dead officers.
call for national and solidarity was reinforced by several speakers at
the interfaith service, including former President George W. Bush, a
Dallas resident, who attended with his wife, Laura.
“At times it feels like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together,” Bush said.
often we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging
ourselves by our best intentions. And this has strained our bonds of
understanding and common purpose.”
Bush called on Americans to reject the unity of grief and fear.
“We want the unity of hope, affection and higher purpose,” he said.
Obama has denounced the shooting as a “vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement” by a “demented” individual.