Obama, George W. Bush Speak At Memorial For Slain Dallas Officers

Jul 12, 2016
Originally published on July 12, 2016 5:43 pm
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

We begin this hour in Dallas where a grieving city honored five officers who were killed Thursday. A lone gunman ambushed them during a protest against police violence. At an inter-faith memorial service, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings welcomed the crowd gathered at the Meyerson Symphony Center to pay their respects.

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MIKE RAWLINGS: At 8:58 p.m. five days ago, the soul of our city was pierced when police officers were ambushed in a cowardly attack. Today we open our city's doors to our friends and to our neighbors. We realize that our pain is your pain.

SHAPIRO: President Obama also spoke, expressing both support for law enforcement and the need to come together to address concerns over racism in policing. NPR's Wade Goodwyn joins us now from Dallas. Hi, Wade.

WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: Hello.

SHAPIRO: It has been a really rough week in Dallas. How are the city and its police department fairing right now?

GOODWYN: Well, the Dallas Police Department is emotionally and physically exhausted. Chief Brown - David Brown - wisely I think asked other city police departments and the state patrol to come today to protect the many dignitaries here because it would've been just too much. Plus, this is a day for the department to grieve, and the Meyerson was filled with hundreds of Dallas police officers for the memorial.

As for the city, I have to say, I'm pretty impressed. Yesterday, for example, there was a Black Lives Matter protest march, and while that was going on, a small All Lives Matter protest group of whites gathered across the street. And of course, this could've easily turned ugly, screaming insults, fingers and faces.

But instead one leader from each group walked out. They met in the middle of the street. And instead of accusations, the men agreed that they were in this together, and they invited their respective groups to hug one another, and they did. They started hugging each other. One of the protesters says this is how you knock down walls. And it was such a contrast to the confrontation that was happening over in Baton Rouge at the same time yesterday.

SHAPIRO: What an image. As we mentioned, President Obama spoke at this memorial service, and so did President George W. Bush, who lives in Dallas. What stood out to you from their remarks?

GOODWYN: Well, I thought the president gave a remarkably balanced speech. Unfortunately I have been at several of these over the years, including the massacre at Fort Hood and more recently the mass murder at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. And I reported the subsequent memorials where Obama spoke.

Today, you know, it felt like a kind of final plea with the nation, a plea to love one another, to stop always seeing the best in ourselves and the worst in others and that this is not just abusive, power-hungry cops and young, black thugs and how the stereotyping and hatred of the other keeps boiling over into mass murder.

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BARACK OBAMA: The vicious killer of these police officers - they won't be the last person who tries to make us turn on one another. The killer in Orlando wasn't, nor was the killer in Charleston. We know there's evil in this world. That's why we need police departments.

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SHAPIRO: That's President Obama speaking at the memorial service today in Dallas and NPR's Wade Goodwyn covering that for us. Thank you, Wade.

GOODWYN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.