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Obama on Baton Rouge: ‘Cowards’ attacked police

Posted at 6:21 PM, Jul 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-17 18:21:16-04

President Barack Obama on Sunday condemned violence against law enforcement and called on Americans to “temper our words and open our hearts,” in the wake of the slaying of three Louisiana law enforcement officers.

“We as a nation have to be loud and clear that nothing justifies violence against law enforcement. Attacks on police are an attack on all of us, and the rule of law that makes society possible,” Obama said, speaking from the White House press briefing room. “We need to temper our words and open our hearts — all of us.”

The President said a fourth police officer remains in critical condition and that the killer’s motive was still unknown.

In his brief remarks, Obama stressed the importance of staying away from divisive rhetoric and actions, particularly ahead of two weeks of the Republican and Democratic conventions where he predicted that political rhetoric would be “more overheated than usual.”

“Around the clock news cycles and social media sometimes amplify these divisions,” Obama said. “That is why it is so important that everyone: regardless of race or political party or profession, regardless of what organizations you’re a part of, everyone right now focus on words and actions that can unite this country rather than divide it further.”

The President also stressed — as he did after a police ambush earlier this month in Dallas that killed five officers — the danger that police face day-to-day.

“The death of these three police officers underscore the danger that police across the country confront every single day,” he said.

The shooting deaths of three law enforcement officers, with three more injured, came in Baton Rouge — a city already on edge after an African-American man recently was shot and killed by police.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch also addressed the killings.

“For the second time in two weeks, multiple law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty,” Lynch said in a statement. “There is no place in the United States for such appalling violence, and I condemn these acts in the strongest possible terms. I pledge the full support of the Department of Justice as the investigation unfolds. Our hearts and prayers are with the fallen and wounded officers, their families, and the entire Baton Rouge community in this extraordinarily difficult time.”