President Obama to talk at Dallas memorial
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama, and former President George W. Bush, a Dallas resident are among the many dignitaries who are in the city for an interfaith memorial service. President Obama, is in a city that’s begun fixing broken glass and repairing chipped concrete, but faces a long journey to repair its shattered emotional heart.
The deaths of five police officers at the hands of a black man who said he wanted to kill “white people” on a hot Thursday night in Dallas night has cast an undeniable pall across the country, exacerbating and accelerating an existing conversation about race and police powers.
The deaths of Smith, Ahrens, Zamarripa, Krol and Thompson came amid a tragic week for the nation that saw Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota killed during encounters with police.
The Dallas officers were fatally gunned down Thursday by a sniper, an armed-to-the-teeth Army veteran who targeted the officers, perhaps as retribution for police violence largely unrelated to north Texas. Police are still working to nail down an exact motive.
Dallas police officers and other first responders will be among those filling the 2,000 seats in the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, along with the families of the officers killed and injured in last week’s attack and two civilians who were wounded.
The ceremony is not public, but the memorial will be simulcast at Klyde Warren Park, a short walk from the symphony hall. If the Monday night vigil for these officers outside City Hall is any indication, expect the 5-acre downtown park to be at capacity.
President Obama has acknowledged the sorrow, anger and confusion over recent events in the country, and he has urged Americans to use the violence as impetus to unify and cautioned them against viewing the Dallas shooting as some microcosm of the country’s problems.
“I think the danger is that we somehow suggest that the act of a troubled individual speaks to some larger political statement across the country. It doesn’t,” Obama said.
An interfaith choir will open Tuesday afternoon’s service, which begins shortly after 1:30 p.m. ET, and the Dallas Police Choir is scheduled to perform the national anthem. An imam, rabbi and Methodist reverend from the area will deliver an interfaith prayer before the speakers take the podium.