Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Dallas shootings: ‘We are all Americans’

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Attorney General Loretta Lynch

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said federal law enforcement officials were working closely with state and local authorities as they investigate shootings during a protest in Dallas that left five police officers dead.

Seven other officers and two civilians were also shot during the attack, police said. Lynch said the Department of Justice – including the FBI, ATF, U.S. Marshals Service and U.S. Attorney’s Office—would provide any necessary assistance in the investigation.

She expressed her condolences not only to the officers killed in the attack, but also to the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Both men were shot and killed this week by police; the Dallas protest was one of several around the country organized to show support for those victims.

“This has been a week of profound grief and heartbreaking loss. The peaceful protest that was planned in Dallas last night was organized in response to the tragic deaths of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota,” Lynch said. “We have opened a civil rights investigation in Louisiana and we are providing assistance to local authorities in Minnesota who are leading the investigation there.”

Lynch said many Americans are feeling a sense of “helplessness, uncertainty and fear.” She called those feelings understandable but said violence isn’t the answer.

“The answer is never violence,” she said. “Rather, the answer must be action: calm, peaceful, collaborative and determined action. We must continue working to build trust between communities and law enforcement. We must continue working to guarantee every person in this country equal justice under the law.”

She called on Americans to reject “bitterness and rancor” and find a way to unite and forge a path forward together.

“We must remind ourselves that we are all Americans – and that, as Americans, we share not just a common land, but a common life. Those we have lost this week have come from different neighborhoods and backgrounds – but today, they are mourned by officers and residents, by family and friends – by men and women and children who loved them, who needed them and who will miss them always. They are mourned by all of us.”

She also offered encouragement for protesters.

“To those who seek to improve our country through peaceful protest and protected speech: I want you to know that your voice is important,” Lynch said. “Do not be discouraged by those who use your lawful actions as cover for their heinous violence. We will continue to safeguard your constitutional rights and to work with you in the difficult mission of building a better nation and a brighter future.”

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