WARSAW, Poland (AP) — President Barack Obama said Friday that America is “horrified” by a targeted shooting of police officers in Dallas, and he said there is no justification for the violence.
“We still don’t know all the facts. What we do know is that there has been a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement,” Obama said in a brief statement to reporters.
The president called the shooters’ motives “twisted” and vowed that “justice will be done.”
“There is no possible justification for these kinds of attacks or any violence against law enforcement,” Obama said.
Obama said he spoke with Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings early Friday and offered his support and condolences. He said the FBI is also in contact with Dallas police.
Obama spoke from Warsaw, Poland, where he is meeting with NATO and European Union leaders. Obama arrived early Friday shortly before shooters opened fire on police officers, killing five officers and injuring seven others during protests over two recent fatal police shootings of black men.
Immediately after landing in Warsaw, and before the shootings, Obama made a point of expressing solidarity with protesters. In a hastily arranged statement to reporters, a visibly frustrated Obama urged Americans to do more to fight injustice and racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
The remarks were aimed in part at ensuring Obama’s voice wasn’t absent from the roiling public debate over police shootings — an issue he has prioritized in his second term. The president has acknowledged becoming out of touch with the public mood during past foreign travels and seemed determined not to let that happen this week.
The Dallas shooting forced the White House to consider whether Obama would continue his travels as planned. Obama is slated to attend meetings in Warsaw Saturday before heading on to Spain, where his itinerary includes cultural stops and meetings with Spanish leaders. He’s not due back in Washington until Monday.
In his initial comments on racial bias in policing, Obama proved to be grimly attuned to the potential for violence directed at police and criticism that the protesters were hostile toward law enforcement.
There’s no contradiction between supporting law enforcement and working to see that biases in the justice system are rooted out, Obama said.
“So when people say ‘Black Lives Matter,’ that doesn’t mean blue lives don’t matter,” he said, referring to police. “It just means all lives matter — but right now, the big concern is the fact that the data shows black folks are more vulnerable to these kinds of incidents.”
Obama expressed his gratitude to police officers and noted he had grieved with families of fallen officers. He reiterated that message Friday morning.
“Today is a wrenching reminder of the sacrifices that they make for us,” Obama said. “Today our focus is on the victims and their families. They are heartbroken. The entire city of Dallas is grieving. Police across America, which is a tight-knit family, feels this loss to their core.”