DALLAS MEMORIAL In wake of shootings, Obama calls on Americans to reject despair
DALLAS — At a memorial for slain police officers, President Barack Obama declared Tuesday that a week of deeply troubling violence has seemed to expose “the deepest fault lines of our democracy.” But he insisted the nation is not as divided as it seems and called on Americans to find common ground in support of racial equity and justice.
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.
Five Dallas officers were killed last Thursday while standing guard as hundreds of people protested the police killings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota earlier in the week.
“It’s hard not to think sometimes that the centre might not hold, that things might get worse,” Obama said. “We must reject such despair.”
He joined politicians, police officers and families of the fallen in the wake of the shocking slayings by a black man who said he wanted revenge for the killings of blacks by police.
Hamilton police were among many police departments that sent condolences to the Dallas officers.
Our condolences, thoughts, prayers are with the Dallas Police Department, the Dallas Area Rapid Transit, and their families, friends and communities.
The chief sent letters of condolence and support to the Dallas Police Department and the Dallas Area Rapid Transit last week. In addition, The Hamilton Police Service will be lowering its flags at all three of its police stations to half mast on the days of the funerals for the officers who died in the line of duty.
“The soul of our city was pierced,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said as he welcomed Obama to the service. It was organized to help combat “a common disease” of violence and honour those who fight it, “our men and women in blue, our peacemakers in blue.”
Rawlings spoke steps from five empty chairs and portraits of the dead officers.
A call for national unity 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.
The Obamas, the Bushes, Vice-President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, and other officials on stage held hands in a show of unity as the service was brought to a close with “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Audience members also clasped hands during the song.
The Obamas and the Bidens were also meeting privately with families of the slain officers and those who were wounded.
Dallas Police Chief David Brown delivers remarks during an interfaith memorial service, honouring five slain police officers, at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center on Tuesday.