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Obama on Dallas: ‘Vicious, calculated, despicable attack on law enforcement’

Posted at 6:30 AM, Jul 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-08 09:06:07-04

WARSAW, Poland — President Barack Obama said Friday that the nation was “horrified” after what he called “a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement” in Dallas.

“There is no possible justification for these kinds of attacks or any violence against law enforcement,” Obama said, speaking from the NATO summit in Poland that he is attending. “Anyone involved in the senseless murders will be held fully accountable. Justice will be done.”

Even during the high-stakes summit focused on European unity, issues of race and violence dominated Obama’s early agenda in Poland. His remarks Friday came only hours after his arrival here when he spoke about the killings of two U.S. black men at the hands of police, saying racial disparities were at play in police brutality.

Obama, who noted he’s been receiving regular updates on the Dallas shootings, said he’d conveyed condolences to the city’s mayor, Mike Rawlings, and indicated the FBI was involved in investigating the shootings, which left 5 police officers dead.

Obama said he would weigh in again when more is known about the killers’ “twisted motivations.”

The President also made an implicit call for tighter gun restrictions, saying the carnage could have been mitigated if the killer or killers weren’t carrying powerful weapons.

“Today is a wrenching reminder of the sacrifices they make for us,” Obama said of law enforcement officers. “We also know when people are armed with powerful weapons, unfortunately, it makes attacks like these more deadly and more tragic.”

Obama said he wanted Friday to “focus is on the victims and their families.”

“They are heartbroken,” Obama said. “The entire city of Dallas feels this to its core. We are grieving with them. I ask you say a prayer for the officers and their families. Keep them in your thoughts.”

Obama was speaking from Warsaw, where he arrived early Friday for a summit of NATO leaders. His remarks on Dallas came at the end of a session with the presidents of the European Council and European Commission, where Obama plotted a path forward after Britain’s vote to exit the EU.

After arriving in Poland in the early morning hours Friday, Obama went to his hotel and delivered a statement about two police-involved shootings this week, saying the episodes reflected persistent racial disparity.

Citing statistics showing minorities are more likely to be pulled over, searched or shot at by police, Obama said it was incumbent on the country to aim for better — including recognizing deep-seated biases that he said must be “rooted out.”

“If communities are mistrustful of the police, that makes those law enforcement offers who are doing a great job, who are doing the right thing, that makes their lives harder,” Obama said, insisting that recognizing problems within law enforcement doesn’t equate to being anti-police.

“When people say ‘black lives matter,’ it doesn’t mean that blue lives don’t matter,” Obama said, referring to police officers. “But right now, the data shows that black folks are more vulnerable to these kinds of incidents. There is a particular burden that is being placed on a group of our fellow citizens.”