WARSAW, Poland (CBSNewYork/AP) — President Barack Obama on Saturday rejected the notion that this week’s stunning violence is a signal that the U.S. has returned to some of the darkest days of its past, saying that as painful as the killings of police and black men were, “America is not as divided as some have suggested.”
“Americans of all races and all backgrounds are rightly outraged by the inexcusable attacks on police, whether it’s in Dallas or anyplace else,” Obama said from Warsaw, Poland, where he attended a NATO summit.
“That includes protesters. It includes family members who have grave concerns about police conduct and they’ve said that this is unacceptable,” Obama added. “There’s no division there.”
The comments marked the third time in as many days that Obama has spoken, from a distance, about the police-involved fatal shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota that were immediately followed by a sniper attack in Dallas that killed five police officers Thursday night. Seven officers and two civilians were also injured.
“This has been a tough week,” the president said.
Speaking from the NATO summit in the wake of the Dallas attack earlier this week, Obama asked all Americans to pray for the fallen officers and their families. He also said the nation should express its gratitude to those serving in law enforcement.
“Today is a wrenching reminder of the scarifies that they make for us,” he said.
Obama said the Dallas shooter, an Army veteran who was later killed by police, was a “demented individual” who does not represent black Americans, any more than a white man accused of killing blacks at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, represented whites.
Obama said the proliferation of guns is part of the broader tensions that sometimes arise between police departments and the communities they serve.
He says police officers at times have very little margin for error in making decisions because guns are so plentiful.
Obama also says the United States is unique among advanced countries in the scale of violence that it experiences, not just through mass shootings but the spate of people shot in his hometown of Chicago.
He says the U.S. cannot identify every trouble individual before they do harm to innocent people, but it can make it harder for them to do so.
Obama is planning on cutting his trip to Europe short in order to visit the people of Dallas sometime next week.
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