President Barack Obama on Friday characterized the killing of five police officers in Dallas as a “vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement.”
“Today is a wrenching reminder of the sacrifices that they make for us,” he said. “We also know that when people are armed with powerful weapons, unfortunately it makes attacks like these more deadly and more tragic. And in the days ahead, we’re going to have to consider those realities as well.”
Obama made the remarks in Warsaw, Poland, before speaking about his meetings with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
OBAMA: Good morning, everybody. Let me begin by thanking Presidents Tusk and Juncker for the opportunity to meet today. With your understanding, I want to begin with a few words about the situation back in the United States, specifically the situation in Dallas, Texas.
My team has been keeping me updated throughout the morning of the evening in Dallas. I spoke this morning with Mayor Rawlings of Dallas to convey the deepest condolences of the American people. I told him that the federal government will provide whatever assistance Dallas may need as it deals with this tremendous tragedy.
We still don’t know all the facts. What we do know is that there has been a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement. Police in Dallas were on duty, doing their jobs, keeping people safe during peaceful protests. These law enforcement officers were targeted, and nearly a dozen officers were shot. Five were killed. Other officers and at least one civilian were wounded — some are in serious condition, and we are praying for their recovery.
As I told Mayor Rawlings, I believe that I speak for every single American when I say that we are horrified over these events, and that we stand united with the people and the police department in Dallas. According to police, there are multiple suspects. We will learn more, undoubtedly, about their twisted motivations. But let’s be clear: There is no possible justification for these kinds of attacks or any violence against law enforcement. The FBI is already in touch with the Dallas police, and anyone involved in these senseless murders will be held fully accountable. Justice will be done.
I will have more to say about this as the facts become more clear. For now, let me just say that even as yesterday I spoke about our need to be concerned, as all Americans, about racial disparities in our criminal justice system, I also said yesterday that our police have an extraordinarily difficult job and the vast majority of them do their job in outstanding fashion. I also indicated the degree to which we need to be supportive of those officers who do their job each and every day, protecting us and protecting our communities.
Today is a wrenching reminder of the sacrifices that they make for us. We also know that when people are armed with powerful weapons, unfortunately it makes attacks like these more deadly and more tragic. And in the days ahead, we’re going to have to consider those realities as well.
In the meantime, today our focus is on the victims and their families. They are heartbroken. The entire city of Dallas is grieving. Police across America, which is a tight-knit family, feels this loss to their core. And we’re grieving with them. I’d ask all Americans to say a prayer for these officers and their families. Keep them in your thoughts. And as a nation, let’s remember to express our profound gratitude to our men and women in blue — not just today, but every day. With that, I want to thank Presidents Tusk and Juncker for our work here today in Warsaw. I’ve worked with Donald in his previous capacity as prime minister here in Poland, and I’ve appreciated this chance to work with Jean-Claude.
Our meeting comes — as I think everybody is aware — at a critical moment for the European Union. The vote in the United Kingdom to leave the EU has created uncertainty about the future of European integration. And unfortunately, this has led some to suggest that the entire edifice of European security and prosperity is crumbling. There have been those who have been questioning what does this mean for the transatlantic relationship. Let me just say, as is often the case in moments of change, this kind of hyperbole is misplaced. I want to take the opportunity to reaffirm some basic points that bear repeating.
First, based on my recent discussions with Prime Minister Cameron, Chancellor Merkel and now here today, I am absolutely confident that the UK and the European Union will work together in a pragmatic and cooperative fashion to ensure that the UK’s transition is orderly and smooth. No one has an interest in protracted, adversarial negotiations. Everybody has an interest in minimizing any disruptions as the UK and the EU forge a new relationship.
Second, even as we face the difficulties of this moment, we cannot lose sight of the extraordinary achievement the European integration continues to be — more than 500 million people speaking 24 different official languages in more than two dozen countries, 19 with a common currency. Every member of the EU is a democracy. No EU country has ever raised arms against another. An integrated Europe is one of the greatest political and economic achievements of modern times, and this is an achievement that has to be preserved.
Third, and for all the reasons I just mentioned, the United States has a strong and enduring interest in a united, democratic Europe. We’re bound together by ties of history, family and our common values — our commitment to democracy, pluralism, human dignity. Our economies are deeply woven together, with the largest trade and investment relationship in the world. The security of America and Europe is indivisible, and that’s why, for nearly 70 years, the United States has been a staunch champion of European integration — and we will remain so.
Fourth, given our shared interests, Europe will remain a cornerstone of America’s engagement with the world. European countries are and will remain among our closest allies and friends, and Europe is an indispensable partner around the globe. Indeed, even as we manage the implications of Brexit, our work today shows that we’re going to continue to be focused on pressing global challenges.
We agree that the United States and the EU can do more together for our shared security. And we’ll keep working to provide each other information to stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters and prevent terrorist attacks, and we will do so in a way that continues to protect privacy and civil liberties. As the global coalition pushes ISIL back on the ground in Syria and Iraq, the EU has pledged critical financial assistance to help shore up the Iraqi economy and stabilize liberated communities. And as NATO nations affirm their commitment to Afghanistan’s security, I want to commend, once again, the EU for taking the lead in mobilizing international assistance for development in Afghanistan.
Here in Europe, we’ll continue to support Ukraine as it undertakes important political and economic reforms. The U.S. and the EU are united in our commitment to maintaining sanctions on Russia until they fully implement its obligations under the Minsk agreements. And with Presidents Tusk and Juncker, set to attend today’s North Atlantic Council meeting, we have an opportunity to deepen security cooperation between NATO and the EU.
We also agree that, on both sides of the Atlantic, we have to address economic frustrations and anxieties of many of our people, feelings that undoubtedly contributed to the Brexit vote — fears that they’re being left behind by globalization and economic integration. Our governments, including the EU, cannot be remote institutions; they have to be responsive and move more quickly, with minimal bureaucracy, to deliver real economic progress in the lives of ordinary people.
In particular, we discussed the importance of public investments — like infrastructure, education, innovation and security — to stimulate growth and job training to help reduce inequality and unemployment, especially for young people here in Europe. That’s been the right thing to do for years, both for the long term and the short term. But at a time when heightened uncertainty in the global economy is potentially amplifying the headwinds that we all face, these policies make even more sense today.
We’re going to keep working to help Europe enhance its energy security with more diverse and resilient supplies, including from the United States. And while we are mindful of the challenges, we are going to continue to pursue a Transalantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or T-TIP, to help sustain jobs and growth in all of our countries and to help reinforce the larger transatlantic relationship.
And finally, we’re stepping up to cooperate on global challenges. And I want to take this opportunity to commend the EU for the generosity and compassion that so many EU countries have shown desperate migrants — men, women and children — who have fled to Europe. We believe NATO can do more to support EU naval operations in the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas to prevent the exploitation of migrants. I expect the EU to play a major role at our refugee summit this fall at the United Nations, where we aim to secure new contributions to address the global refugee crisis.
And with respect to the threat of climate change, we look forward to all EU countries ratifying the Paris agreement and to the EU joining it. We continue to see the EU as one of our strongest partners in reducing emissions, phasing out dangerous HFCs and investing in clean energy.
So, again, I want to thank Donald and Jean-Claude for our work together. Despite the challenge of this moment, I’m pleased to see that the United States and the EU continue to deepen our partnership. The world needs a strong, prosperous, democratic and united Europe. And in that cause, you will always have a strong and steady partner in the United States of America.
Thank you very much.
TUSK: Before anything else, I want to say that I am deeply sorry about what has happened in Dallas. We are with you in this, as well as with the families and loved ones of the victims. And sorry again. This is my third and also my last meeting in Warsaw with Barack Obama as President of the United States of America. But I believe we will see each other again here in Poland, perhaps in less official roles. And, Barack, you know that you will always be here the most welcome guest. You know this, I’m sure.
Over many years, we have worked together to strengthen the relations between Europe and the United States. Today, the need for such effort is even more visible. I remember 27 years ago, it was in my hometown of Gdansk, when members of Solidarity welcomed George Bush senior outside of the famous gate of the Gdansk shipyards. And we were chanting, “Nie ma wolnosci bez solidarnosci,” which means “there is no freedom without solidarity.” We already knew then that our newly gained freedom would require defense and guarantees, which, in a global dimension, implies the closest possible cooperation between Europe and the United States.
Today, we can repeat that phrase with only a small change — it has preserved its meaning. There is no freedom in Europe without Atlantic solidarity. Caring for the unity of the whole political community of the West is key. Whether we are discussing the referendum in the United Kingdom, the situation in Ukraine, or our future trade deals, we realize how much effort and how many new arguments we need to prevent political entropy and disintegration.
We know that the geopolitical consequences of Brexit may be very serious. Maintaining the closest possible relations between the EU and the UK is in European and American interest. But it is equally important to send today a strong message to the whole world that Brexit, as sad and meaningful as it is, is just an incident and not the beginning of a process. And to all our opponents, on the inside and out, who are hoping for a sequel to Brexit, I want to say loud and clear, you won’t see on the screen the words “To be continued.”
There’s no good alternative to transatlantic cooperation. All those who value our fundamental principles of freedom, the rule of law, democracy, human and civil rights must act in favor of this cooperation. This is the essence of our tie between America, known as the New World, and Europe, known as the Old Continent. We know, however, that besides the old world and the new world, there’s also a world apart, with different values and different strategic ends. And it has allies also in the USA, in Europe, and here in Poland.
In public debates in Washington, London, Berlin, Paris, and Warsaw, we hear anti-democratic slogans more and more, calling for national egoism, isolationism, Euroscepticism. It would be good if we clearly stated today that whoever turns against America harms Europe. Whoever attacks the European Union harms America. And whoever undermines the foundations of liberal democracy harms one and the other.
We have been building liberal democracy with determination on both sides of the Atlantic. We have followed the lessons of the same scholars. We have been inspired by the same political philosophies. We must now protect this heritage, both rich and, indeed, surprisingly fresh. What comes to my mind on this occasion is a quote by Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States of America: “In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”
JUNCKER: Good morning. I would like to express my sympathy to the President of the United States and to the people of this great nation for the tragic events which happened yesterday night in Dallas, Texas. These events, like others, are proving and showing that we are living in a world which is developing increasingly to more complexity and to more uncertainty. The threats to our security takes many forms, and they are not located in any one place.
Therefore, our first duty is to show unity and reaffirm the values we share — human rights, freedom, democracy, and the keystone on which the others rest: the rule of law. They go to the core of the Euro-Atlantic Alliance, and they make us who we are and they guarantee our way of life.
The United States, NATO, and the European Union are central pillars of the global order. We complement each other, and together provide peace and stability in Europe, our neighborhood, and beyond. Our combined strengths remains formidable, but still, we can work more closely together, and that is why we are here today.
We were discussing, in the course of this morning’s meeting, the consequences entailed by the vote of the British people to leave the European Union. I would like to repeat here what we had said in Brussels the other day — that we cannot start negotiations until the British authorities will have notified, under the regime of Article 50, their intention to leave the European Union. But then we have to engage in negotiations. And I’m not doing this — how can I say, a hostile mood — I do think that even after the referendum, the European Union and the United Kingdom share a community of interests, not only in the defense and the military sector, but in all the relevant sectors of the international life — mainly as far as trade is concerned.
But if a country wants to have free access to the entire market, it’s for sure that this country has to respect the four basic freedoms, including the one of the freedom of movement for workers. But we’ll have these negotiations with our British friends. And I do think that it’s in our interest and in the global interest to keep Britain as a strong ally anyway in NATO and as a strong partner when it comes to the relations of this then third country with the European Union. As time is running out, Barack, I will stop here — not without having said that we were discussing the T-TIP issue and that we want to conclude these negotiations before the end of this year, mainly as far as the big blocks of this negotiation are concerned. You will ask the European Council, I was asking leaders one after the other if yes or no, the European Union should continue to negotiate, and we received once again the mandate to conclude these negotiations.
Thanks so much, also for what — for your leadership during the last years. Thank you, Barack.
DALLAS: President Barack Obama will cut short a foreign trip and head to Dallas next week as a shooting rampage by a black army veteran bent on killing white police triggers urgent calls to mend America’s troubled race relations.
Police found bomb-making materials and a weapons cache at the home of 25-year-old Micah Johnson, a Dallas area resident who gunned down five officers before dying in a standoff with police.
While the White House ruled out any link between the gunman and known “terrorist organisations,” Johnson’s Facebook page ties him to several radical black activist movements listed as hate groups in the United States.
Described to police as a “loner” with no prior criminal record, Johnson told negotiators before he died that he wanted to kill white cops in retaliation for the recent fatal police shootings of two black men.
The rampage in Texas, which erupted on Thursday night during a peaceful protest against police brutality, comes at a time of intense soul-searching over the use of lethal force by law enforcement towards African-Americans.
Leaders of the Black Lives Matter protest movement condemned the violence in Dallas, while vowing to uphold marches planned for the weekend – with large crowds gathering on Friday night in Atlanta, Georgia and scores outside the White House.
Addressing thousands of people at a prayer service in honor of the fallen officers, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings urged Americans to “step up” to heal the country’s racial wounds.
“We will not shy away from the very real fact that we as a city, as a state, as a nation are struggling with racial issues,” he told the crowd.
Rawlings echoed the message sent by Obama as the nation reeled from the latest violence: that black lives matter – and so do “blue” lives, those of police officers.
“We must step up our game and approach complicated issues in a different way,” Rawlings said. “And race is complicated.”
‘THIS MUST STOP’
Obama, who has ordered all flags on government buildings lowered to half-mast for five days, made it clear that violence against police had “no possible justification.”
The president weighed in on the attacks from the Polish capital, where he was attending a NATO summit, calling the episode “vicious, calculated and despicable.”
The White House said Obama would return to the United States on Sunday night – one day ahead of schedule – and visit Dallas early next week at the invitation of Rawlings.
The shootings – which left nine injured, seven of them police officers – sparked chaotic scenes of people running for their lives during a march by several hundred demonstrators in the city of 1.2 million, not far from the site where president John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.
The peaceful protest in Dallas was one of several nationwide over the deaths of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota that prompted Obama to make an emotional appeal for urgent police reform.
The ambush marked the single biggest loss of life for law enforcement in America since the Sep 11, 2001 attacks, and was set to further strain already tense race relations.
“This must stop – this divisiveness between our police and our citizens,” Dallas police chief David Brown said.
‘EVERY RABBIT TRAIL’
Johnson was killed in a tense showdown with police in a parking garage, by a bomb robot sent in by officers after hours of negotiations and an exchange of fire.
“This was a well-planned, well-thought out, evil strategy,” said Brown of the gunman. Bomb-making materials, weapons and ammunition were found in his home.
“He said he was upset about the recent police shootings,” Brown said. “The suspect said he was upset at white people. The suspect stated he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers.”
Earlier, officials said three other people had been detained but it was unclear if any remained in custody.
US Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said the gunman now appeared to have acted alone.
However, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said police would “continue down every rabbit trail … ensuring that we eliminate any other possible suspects or co-conspirators who may have aided this gunman in any way.”
The gunman told police he was not affiliated with any organised groups. But Johnson’s Facebook page ties him to a number of organisations listed as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Centre, which studies such movements in the United States.
Groups that he “liked” include the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) and the Nation of Islam, both known for expressing virulently anti-Semitic and anti-white views, the SPLC said in a statement.
On his Facebook page, Johnson appears with his fist raised in a gesture reminiscent of the black power movement of decades ago in America – wearing a loose-fitting African style tunic against the backdrop of the red, black and green Pan-African flag, also popular during the black liberation drive of the 1960s in the United States.
Another of his “likes” is a group called the African American Defence League, whose leader called this week for bloody retaliation after the fatal shooting in Louisiana. “We must ‘Rally The Troops!'” the post read. “It is time to visit Louisiana and hold a barbeque. The highlight of our occasion will be to sprinkle Pigs Blood!” – AFP/de