Live Blog: 'We Are One American Family,' Obama Says At Dallas Memorial Service | KERA News

Live Blog: 'We Are One American Family,' Obama Says At Dallas Memorial Service

Jul 12, 2016

President Barack Obama says the shootings of five Dallas police officers would appear to have exposed the "the deepest fault line of our democracy" but that Americans must reject such despair.

Obama spoke today at the memorial service for the five, honoring the work of law enforcement officers, saying they answer a call that at any moment, even in the briefest of interactions, may put their life in harm's way.

He said fewer people are being mourned at the service because of the brave actions of the officers killed.

Obama attended the memorial along with first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, as well as former President George W. Bush.

The five who died were shot during a protest against the police killings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota. Nine officers and two civilians were injured in the attack.

Obama said Americans can't dismiss protesters who call attention to racial issues 50 years after the Civil Rights Act as troublemakers.

Obama said that Americans know that bigotry remains, some are affected by it more than others and that none of us "are entirely innocent."

He also said that the country asks police "to do too much" and that we do "too little ourselves."

Obama delivered his remarks at an interfaith memorial service at the Meyerson Symphony Center in the Dallas Arts District. He is scheduled to meet with the families of the fallen police officers and those injured in Thursday night's shootings.

Obama was joined by former President George W. Bush, the vice president, both Texas senators and a host of other dignitaries. Elected officials from across Texas were in attendance, as were law enforcement officials. as

Programming note: Tonight at 7, KERA 90.1 FM will re-broadcast today's interfaith memorial service.

Video: Watch The Memorial Service:

 

Read: Live Blog Of The Memorial Service

 

1:59 p.m. 'We Are Not As Divided As We Seem,' Obama Tells Audience

President Obama talked about each of the officers, praising them for their work and for protecting the city. Obama talked about how Dallas police helped a woman who was shot as she tried to shield her sons in the aftermath of last week’s shootings.

“Your work and the work of police officers across the country is like no other,” Obama told the audience. “From the moment you put on that uniform, you have answered a call that at any moment, even the briefest interaction, you put your life in harm’s way.”

The reward of police work “comes with knowing our entire way of life depends on the rule of law,” Obama said.

Some wonder if racial problems can ever be bridged, Obama said.

“We are not as divided as we seem,” he said. “I know that because I know America. I know how far we’ve come against impossible odds.”

Dallas has shown the country the meaning of perseverance and character and hope, Obama said.

“That’s the America I know," the president said.

President Obama says Americans can't dismiss protesters who call attention to racial issues 50 years after the Civil Rights Act as troublemakers.

Obama says that Americans know that bigotry remains, some are affected by it more than others and that none of us "are entirely innocent."

He also said that the country asks police "to do too much" and that we do "too little ourselves."

Obama thanked Mayor Mike Rawlings and Police Chief David Brown for their leadership.

“We could not be prouder of you,” he said.

Video: Watch Obama's Remarks

 

1:42 p.m. ‘I’ll Be Loving You Forever,’ Chief Brown Says

Mayor Mike Rawlings introduces Dallas Police Chief David Brown as a native of South Oak Cliff – and the crowd gave him a standing ovation.

“He not only represents Dallas but officers across the country and the higher calling of police work,” Rawlings tells the crowd.

Brown recited some Stevie Wonder lyrics:

Until the day is night and night becomes the day.
Until the trees and seas just up and fly away. …
Until the day that is the day that are no more 
Did you know that you're loved by somebody? 
Until the day the earth starts turning right to left.
Until the earth just for the sun denies itself.
I'll be loving you forever.

Until dear Mother Nature says her work is through

Until the day that you are me and I am you.

Listen to the song:

1:36 p.m. ‘Each Officer Accepts A Calling,' Bush Says

Former President George W. Bush applauded the courage of the fallen officers.

“We are proud of the men we mourn and the community that has rallied them and to support the wounded,” the former president said. “Our mayor and police chief and police department have been mighty inspirations for the rest of the nation.”

Bush talked about the special role officers play in society.

“We are grief stricken heart broken and forever grateful," Bush said. "Each officer accepts a calling that sets them apart.”

None of us are prepared or could be prepared by an ambush of hatred and malice, he told the audience.

Disagreement deescalates too quickly into dehumanization, and this has strained our bonds of understanding and purpose, Bush said.

“We are bound by things of the spirit … by a shared commitment to common ideas,” he said.

1:30 p.m. 'They Overcame Evil,' Cornyn Says

Sen. John Cornyn thanked Dallas leaders for their strength and grace.

“Being a Texan doesn’t describe where you’re from. It describes who your family is. Today, our family and this great nation shares the grief of Dallas.”

Cornyn praised the officers who put their lives on the line.

“I believe they chose to confront evil and overcome it with good. They overcame evil by running toward the sound of the gunfire. They overcame evil by shielding their fellow citizens from the spray of bullets. They overcame evil by sacrificing their own lives so others could live. … The city of Dallas overcome the evil from that day. Amidst our profound sadness, we honor these Dallas officers for putting these people before themselves. In their final moments, serving others, protecting this city and loving this community as they did. 

1:12 p.m. Interfaith Leaders Offer Prayers

Imam Omar Suleiman, Rabbi Andrew Marc Paley and Dr. Sheron C. Patterson are the interfaith leaders speaking at the service.

Patterson said: “You are the rock in the weary land, you are the shelter in the time of storm. You are uniquely qualified to come see about your people. … We salute the five slain Dallas police officers. … We honor their sacrifice.”

Patterson praised Dallas Police Chief David Brown for his leadership. 

Imam Omar Suleiman told the audience: “Our country is soul-searching. We ask you to look upon us today to guide us. ... We ask you to put peace in our hearts, that we may spread it to all of those around us. … It is up to us to say you did not create us for bigotry or vengeance. You did not create us to dominate or oppress one another. You did not create us for war. We are not the ones to judge who should live and who should die.”

Suleiman continued: “Let the children of our fallen officers and others who have lost their lives to senseless violence are molded in the love we express today, not the hatred that claimed the lives of their fathers.

Rabbi Andrew Marc Paley told the audience: “Pray for healing, for wisdom, for strength and for peace. In this moment of sadness and pain we look to the heavens knowing … there are stars up above, so far away we only see their light long after the star itself is gone. And so it is with the people we have loved. Their memories keep shining ever brightly. Let the stars light up the darkest night these are the stars that guide us. As we live our days we remember them.”

1:04 p.m. 'Dallas Is Very, Very Good,' Mayor Says 

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings is the first speaker.

"At 8:58 p.m. five days ago, the soul of our city was pierced when police officers were ambushed in a cowardly attack. In the days that followed, we’ve sobbed and paid tribute at a growing memorial at the police headquarters. We’ve prayed together at Thanks-Giving Square. We’ve lit candles to honor the lives of our five heroes."

Rawlings thanks elected officials from other states and cities who have traveled to the service.

“These men and women are here with us because they know we have a common disease. This absurd violence on our streets.  Those who will help us fight it are our men and women in blue, our peacemakers in blue. They have died for that cause. … We offer our gratitude to you, our cops, including those who have traveled to support your brothers and sisters …"

Rawlings talked about the spirit of the city of Dallas.

“I want to speak to my fellow Dallasites," Rawlings said. "I have searched hard in my soul of late to discover what mistakes we have made. I have asked why us. And in my moments of self doubt I discover the truth. That we did nothing wrong. In fact Dallas is very very good. Our police are among the best in the country. I am in awe of our Dallas police officers.”

The crowd applauded and gave a standing ovation.

“We set the standard where policing can both be strong and smart. Where men die for the rights that this country was built on. In short, I have never been more proud of my city, our city. While we did nothing wrong, there is a reason this happened here, this place, this time in history.”

1 p.m. Obama Arrives In The Meyerson

President Obama, Michelle Obama, Former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush have arrived in the Meyerson.

The Star Spangled Banner is being performed.

12:36 p.m. Memorial Service Underway

Somber music fills the Meyerson Symphony Center in the Dallas Arts District as law enforcement, loved ones and others honor the officers. Law enforcement representatives fill every row in the audience. 

President Obama has landed at Dallas Love Field and is expected to arrive soon.

Five empty seats are covered with folded American flags and police hats -- each seat representing a fallen officer. 

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings is expected to speak, as are interfaith leaders, who will offer prayers. 

12:33 p.m. Obama Arrives In Dallas

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama arrived at Dallas Love Field right before 12:30 p.m. They were followed off Air Force One by U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, Sen. Ted Cruz and other elected representatives.

They were greeted by Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden, as well as Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

President Obama has placed telephone calls to the family members of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, two black men killed in separate police shootings last week that sparked protests around the country.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says Obama made the calls aboard Air Force One as he flew to Dallas. Earnest said the president offered condolences on his behalf and first lady Michelle Obama's, as well the American people.

Valerie Castile's brother, Tracy Castile, said his sister had been invited to Tuesday's memorial service for the five police officers slain during a protest over the death of Castile and Alton Sterling, who was killed by police last week in Louisiana. But Tracy Castile said his sister chose to stay in Minnesota to focus on her son.

Valerie Castile said she was ecstatic to get the president's call.

 

Presidential motorcade passes by KERA on the way to the #Dallas memorial. #ObamainDallas #DallasPoliceShooting #KERANews

A video posted by KERA (@keratx) on

Jul 12, 2016 at 10:50am PDT

 

12:20 p.m. Showing Their Support

Dorothy Wilson traveled with her husband from Shreveport, Louisiana, just for the service. She’s in Dallas to show her support.

 “We wanted to be here not only for the support of the police but for all of the other victims,” she told KERA. “We just want to feel like there’s some unification, somewhere, some unity.”

She said the scene outside the Meyerson Symphony Center is peaceful – “no riot gear, nobody ready to do any fighting.”

Vivian Morales of Mesquite said she showed up outside the Meyerson because she wanted to be with the officers who have lost loved ones.

“I also want to show my respect to them for doing their jobs and some of them losing their lives by doing their jobs,” she said. “I really care for my community.”

She said things are tense in the country right now.

“I feel for the lost lives of the officers but I also feel for the lost lives caused by police enforcement,” Morales said. “There are a lot of things going that shouldn’t be going on. A lot of killings and violence unnecessary violence.”

“I feel very bad it had to happen here. The killings (recent fatal shootings by police) didn’t happen here. Dallas really had nothing to do with it and it sucks that they were the ones who had to go down because of it.” 

Our earlier coverage

The private service will take place around 12:40 p.m. at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in the Dallas Arts District.

Obama will be joined by former President George W. Bush, the vice president, both Texas senators and a host of other dignitaries. Elected officials from across Texas will be in attendance, as will law enforcement officials.

Obama is expected to address violence in Dallas and across the country.

Sen. Ted Cruz is among the lawmakers accompanying President Obama aboard Air Force One as he travels to Dallas to speak at an interfaith memorial service for five police officers killed on Thursday.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says Tuesday that Cruz's presence, as well as speeches from former President George W. Bush and GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, are examples of how the country is not nearly as divided as it might seem given political debates, campaign rhetoric and congressional dysfunction.

Earnest says that "it's in moments of tragedy, that this unity is revealed."

Other members of Congress flying with the president include Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California and Texas Democratic Reps. Marc Veasey and Eddie Bernice Johnson.

The Memorial Service Is Being Simulcast In Klyde Warren Park

Klyde Warren Park will be showing coverage of the interfaith service taking place at the Meyerson Symphony Center. The park encourages guests to use public transportation or walk, if appropriate, to avoid road closures.

Other U.S., Texas Leaders In Attendance

President George W. Bush also will attend and speak at the Tuesday memorial, according to The White House. Former First Lady Laura Bush, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and Vice President Joe Biden are set to attend as well.

On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced his wife, Cecilia, would attend the memorial in his stead while he recovers from an infection after suffering severe burns to his legs and feet, The Texas Tribune reported.

The president is making the trip at the invitation from Mayor Mike Rawlings. For security reasons, Dallas police cannot publish specific street closures, but drivers should expect significant delays, according to the department blog

 

Dallas Police Chief David Brown said at a news conference Monday that the Arlington Police Department has offered to work with the Secret Service to provide security during the president's visit. Brown said he doesn't want his own officers shouldering that responsibility because of "the fatigue factor."

 

Obama Learned Of The Dallas Shooting While In Poland

Five officers were killed and nine were wounded when a gunman opened fire on a protest march in downtown Dallas on Thursday evening. Two civilians were also hurt in the ambush. After hours-long negotiations with Micah Xavier Johnson turned into an exchange of gunfire, the police deployed a robot armed with an explosive, killing the 25-year-old suspect.

The attack occurred shortly after Obama had arrived for a NATO summit in Poland. He cut his visit to Spain short by a day and has spoken daily during the trip about the attacks, calling for police and protesters to "listen to each other."

Obama said protesters who attack police officers are doing a disservice to their cause.

Obama said in Madrid after meeting with Spain's acting prime minister that one of the great things about America is that individuals and groups can protest and speak truth to power. He said the process is sometimes messy and controversial, but the ability to engage in free speech has improved America.

Obama also cautions that if protesters paint police with a broad brush, they could lose allies for their cause. At the same time, he said that when police organizations acknowledge there is a problem stemming from bias, it will contribute to solutions.

Obama is cutting his first visit to Spain a day short because of a series of deadly shootings in the U.S.

For more coverage of the downtown Dallas shooting, visit this page of stories from KERA and NPR.