WARSAW, Poland — President Barack Obama on Friday called the shootings of police officers in Dallas “a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement,” and vowed a harsh punishment for any perpetrators.
“There is no possible justification for these kinds of attacks or any violence against law enforcement,” Obama said, speaking from the NATO summit in Poland that he is attending. “Anyone involved in the senseless murders will be held fully accountable. Justice will be done.”
Obama, who noted he’s been receiving regular updates on the shootings, said he’d conveyed condolences to Dallas’ mayor, and indicated the FBI was involved in investigating the shootings, which left 5 police officers dead.
He said he would weigh in again when more is known about the killers’ “twisted motivations.”
The President also made an implicit call for tighter gun restrictions, saying the carnage could have been mitigated if the gunmen weren’t carrying powerful weapons.
“Today is a wrenching reminder of the sacrifices they make for us,” Obama said on law enforcement officers. “We also know when people are armed with powerful weapons, unfortunately, it makes attacks like these more deadly and more tragic.”
Obama didn’t make any express calls for more gun control, saying Friday the “focus is on the victims and their families.”
“They are heartbroken,” Obama said. “The entire city of Dallas feels this to its core. We are grieving with them. I ask you say a prayer for the officers and their families. Keep them in your thoughts.”
Obama was speaking from Warsaw, where he arrived early Friday for a summit of NATO leaders. His remarks came at the end of a session with the presidents of the European Council and European Commission, where Obama plotted a path forward after Britain’s vote to exit the EU.
As soon as he arrived in Poland in the early morning hours Friday, Obama went to his hotel and delivered a statement about two police-involved shootings in the U.S. this week, saying the episodes reflected persistent racial disparity.
Citing statistics showing minorities are more likely to be pulled over, searched or shot at by police, Obama said it was incumbent on the country to aim for better — including recognizing deep-seated biases that must be “rooted out.”
“If communities are mistrustful of the police, that makes those law enforcement offers who are doing a great job, who are doing the right thing, that makes their lives harder,” Obama said, insisting that recognizing problems within law enforcement doesn’t equate to being anti-police.
“When people say ‘black lives matter,’ it doesn’t mean that blue lives don’t matter,” Obama said, referring to police officers. “But right now, the data shows that black folks are more vulnerable to these kinds of incidents. There is a particular burden that is being placed on a group of our fellow citizens.”