President Barack Obama knew that he needed to find a way to serve as mediator to two groups that have collided due to misunderstandings and racism. On July 12, President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama took a trip to Dallas to pay their respects to the five police officers who were killed during a mass shooting. The shooter, Micah Johnson, was allegedly upset over the recent police shootings of Black men across the country.
But speaking in front of a room filled with police officers, President Obama had the task of bringing ease to the officers who mourned the men who died in the line of duty while also bringing attention to the racial strife that ignites Black Lives Matter protests. Here is how he walked the thin line by telling both sides of the story.
Obama on the selfless job of being a police officer:
“Like police officers across the country, these men and their families shared a commitment to something larger than themselves. They weren’t looking for their names to be up in lights. They’d tell you the pay was decent but wouldn’t make you rich. They could have told you about the stress and long shifts, and they’d probably agree with Chief Brown when he said that cops don’t expect to hear the words ‘thank you’ very often, especially from those who need them the most.”
Obama on the recent protests across the country:
“I know that Americans are struggling right now with what we’ve witnessed over the past week. First, the shootings in Minnesota and Baton Rouge, and the protests, then the targeting of police by the shooter here — an act not just of demented violence but of racial hatred. All of it has left us wounded, and angry, and hurt. It’s as if the deepest fault lines of our democracy have suddenly been exposed, perhaps even widened. And although we know that such divisions are not new — though they have surely been worse in even the recent past — that offers us little comfort.”
Obama on how Dallas police helped protesters during the shooting:
“When the bullets started flying, the men and women of the Dallas police, they did not flinch and they did not react recklessly. They showed incredible restraint. Helped in some cases by protesters, they evacuated the injured, isolated the shooter, and saved more lives than we will ever know.”
Obama on how America’s racial history haunts the country today:
“We also know that centuries of racial discrimination — of slavery, and subjugation, and Jim Crow — they didn’t simply vanish with the end of lawful segregation. They didn’t just stop when Dr. King made a speech, or the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act were signed. Race relations have improved dramatically in my lifetime. Those who deny it are dishonoring the struggles that helped us achieve that progress.”
President Obama’s speech will lead to criticism from both sides who may feel that he catered to one group over the other. However, it was a delicate balancing act that proves police violence against Blacks must be eradicated and violence against police won’t solve the issue.