President Obama spoke Tuesday afternoon at a Dallas vigil for the five police officers slain by a sniper last week, calling for unity among all Americans and a resistance to using violence as means to achieving justice.
The president praised police forces across the United States, noting that society “depends on the rule of law” and that “the maintenance of that law is a hard and daily labor.” Additionally, he said, “We know there is evil in this world. That’s why we need police departments.”
Obama also admonished the actions of militant black activist Micah Johnson as “an act not just of demented violence but of racial hatred.” However, he added, we cannot allow the “despicable” acts of violence to force us to "simply turn away those in peaceful protests as troublemakers or paranoid.”
“We know that bias remains,” Obama said in remarks following his predecessor George W. Bush’s. “We have all seen this bigotry in our own lives at some point.” He called upon police forces to follow the lead of Dallas in “doing it the right way” by reducing the use of excessive force and seeing an overall decline in the murder rate. “None of of us are entirely innocent,” he said of racial bias. “No institution is entirely immune. And that includes our police departments.”
The president also made frequent mention of his role as "consoler-in-chief," and called upon Americans to unite, across racial divides, in “the pursuit of reconciliation.” He suggested detractors of Black Lives Matter should surely be able to hear the pain of the families of police-shooting victims like Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. “In this audience I see what's possible when we realize we are one American family,” he said, “all deserving of equal treatment.”