On Tuesday, President Obama gave a speech at a memorial for the five officers that lost their lives in a sniper attack at a protest last Thursday.
The President recalled stories about each of the officers that lost their lives in the line of duty, showing each of their commitments to the profession, but also elements of their respective characters.
However, the focus of the President’s speech was primarily working to mend the racial tensions felt in the United States, especially after the tragic events of last week.
President Obama explained,
“I know that Americans are struggling right now with what we’ve witnessed over the past week. First, the shootings in Minnesota and Baton Rouge, the protests, then the targeting of the police by the shooter here. An act not just of demented violence, but racial hatred… the deepest faultlines of our democracy have… been exposed, perhaps even widened… faced with this violence, we wonder if the divides of race in America can ever be bridged.”
He emphasized the need for unity in times where it seems that the citizens of the United States are so divided. However, the President stated that:
“I’m here to insist that we are not as divided as we seem. I know that because I know America. I know how far we’ve come against impossible odds.”
The President also praised the Dallas Police Department at several points during his speech, explaining that:
“They were upholding the constitutional rights of this country.”
“We mourn fewer people today because of your brave actions.”
He also highlighted that the Dallas Police Department is also part of what he sees as direct improvements to the conditions that so many have protested. According to the President,
“complaints of excessive force have been cut by 64%. The Dallas Police Department has been doing it the right way.”
The President was also outspoken in condemning those who suggest rhetoric that advocates for harm of police by explaining that they, not only threaten the lives of police, but also threaten the very justice that they speak of.
The president was open about acknowledging the realities of being Black in America today. He validated the view that African Americans and white Americans are treated differently when encountering law enforcement. Denouncing “reverse racism” and minimizing under the guise of “political correctness,” he touched on pressing issues facing the country today, as well as the rhetoric that has been used to continue to divide the country, rather than tend to it’s wounds.
The subject matter of the speech covered issues beyond race that are facing the country today. It seemed as if President Obama was desperately trying to use the moment to address the host of issues that are contributing to tension between various groups in the U.S. today.