North Texas Daily

President Obama, other leaders, deliver powerful tribute to fallen officers

President Obama, other leaders, deliver powerful tribute to fallen officers

President Obama, other leaders, deliver powerful tribute to fallen officers
July 12
21:15 2016

Matthew Reyna | Staff Writer


The Interfaith Tribute to Dallas Fallen Officers featured a multitude of prominent speakers who honored the five Dallas police officers who were killed Thursday, July 7 after a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Dallas. The speakers attempted to lift the spirits of the crowd of mostly police officers, in addition to the American citizens watching or listening from afar.

Memorial organizers estimated over 2,500 guests, including officers, guests, volunteers and choir members, and the service was hosted at the Meyerson Symphony Center on Tuesday, June 12.

“We are one Dallas, one American and one world,” said Imam Omar Suleiman during an introductory prayer session, which featured Christian, Muslim and Jewish speakers.

President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush made a rare public speaking appearance together, which reflected the magnitude of the shooting and the unified response from both political parties.

A number of notable politicians from around the country also attended the event. Representatives from outside the state included Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, New Mexico Governor Susanna Martinez and Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, standing in front of the previous two American presidents and both Texas senators, introduced multiple interfaith leaders before speaking.

The mayor made it clear he wanted to see this tragedy bring Dallas closer together – not fracture the city further.

“To wage this battle against violence and separatism, today must be about unity,” Rawlings said.

He said the Dallas Police Department is a world-class organization and that the shooting could have happened anywhere.

“We did nothing wrong. Our police are among the best in the country,” Rawlings said. “I am in awe of our Dallas police officers. I have never been more proud of my city – our city.”

Rawlings introduced Texas Senator John Cornyn, who complimented the Obamas and Bidens for attending. His friendly words seemed to cement the bipartisan support for the Dallas Police Department.

“You honor us with your presence here today,” Cornyn said to the President, First Lady and Vice President.

President Bush was greeted warmly by the crowd as he was introduced by Cornyn. The senior senator from Texas cited Bush’s leadership during the attacks of Sept. 11 as a unified moment in American history.

Bush said the city is shaken by the attacks, but castigated those who counter violence by spreading more hate through judgement and rhetoric.

“Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves with our best intentions,” the former president said.

President Obama spoke last and delivered a rousing speech. His voice shook at times as he reminded the crowd of how many memorials he has had to attend as president because of senseless violence. He specifically mentioned all five of the victim’s names: Lorne Ahrens, Michael Smith, Michael Krol, Patrick Zamarippa and Brent Thompson, and spoke of the families they left behind.

The president threaded a needle as he assured the African-American community that he empathizes with their struggle to achieve equality in the American criminal justice system, while telling police officers they work an often thankless job, but serve a greater purpose.

“I have seen people who have protested on behalf of criminal justice reform grieving alongside police officers,” Obama said. “I have seen people who mourn the five officers we lost, but also grieving with the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.”

Obama cited the Dallas Police Department as an example of innovative, community-based policing. He criticized those who do not understand the pressure of the job, which he said requires an extraordinary level of courage.

“These men and their families share a commitment to something larger than themselves,” Obama said. “When the bullets started flying, the men and women of the Dallas Police Department didn’t flinch.”

Obama also said it’s unfair to dismiss all Black Lives Matter protesters as radicals.

“When study after study shows that whites and people of color experience the criminal justice system differently, that if you’re black you are more likely to be pulled over and searched,” Obama said. “When all this takes place 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, we cannot simply turn around and dismiss those who decently protest.”

Obama said he was encouraged by dialogue he has seen between police and protesters at protest rallies, but stressed the need for both sides to turn down the rhetoric.

“With an open heart we can learn to stand in each other’s shoes,” Obama said. “With an open heart we can worry less about which side is wrong and join together to do what’s right.”

In a show of unity, every speaker on the stage locked hands and sang along to Battle Hymn of the Republic as the event came to a close.

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