“Time and again, you make the split-second decisions that could mean life or death for you and many others in harm’s way, I want you to know that the American people see it, too. We recognize it, we respect it, we appreciate it, and we depend on you.”
Obama writes open letter to police: ‘We have your backs’
President Obama speaks about the Baton Rouge, La., shooting of police officers from the briefing room of the White House in Washington on July 17, 2016. (Associated Press) **FILE** more >
By Dave Boyer – The Washington Times – Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Stung by criticism that he doesn’t show enough support for police, President Obama told the nation’s law enforcement officers Tuesday that Americans “depend on you.”
After the murders of three police officers Sunday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the head of the police union in Cleveland said Mr. Obama had “blood on his hands” for attacks against law enforcement, including the assassinations of five officers in Dallas two weeks ago. Cleveland is hosting the Republican National Convention.
“Just as your tight-knit law enforcement family feels the recent losses to your core, our nation grieves alongside you. Any attack on police is an unjustified attack on all of us.”
Criticism of racial tensions and violence against police are prominent themes at the GOP convention. Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke drew cheers Monday night when he told the convention, “Blue Lives Matter!” The White House again rejected a call Monday to light the president’s house in blue as a show of support for slain officers.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani alluded to then-Sen. Obama’s 2004 speech in which he declared there is “not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America — there’s the United States of America.”
“What happened to ‘there’s no black America, there’s no white America — there is just America?’ What happened to it? Where did it go?” Mr. Giuliani asked.
In his letter to police, the president the job of a police officer is particularly difficult “in this tumultuous hour.”
“Some are trying to use this moment to divide police and the communities you serve,” Mr. Obama said. “I reject those efforts, for they do not reflect the reality of our nation.”
The president told police that America “should give you the resources you need to do your job, including our full-throated support.”
“We must give you the tools you need to build and strengthen the bonds of trust with those you serve, and our best efforts to address the underlying challenges that contribute to crime and unrest,” he said.
Obama writes open letter to police: ‘We have your backs’
By SARAH WHEATON 07/18/16
President Barack Obama wrote an open letter to law enforcement on Monday in the wake of deadly attacks on cops in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
In a letter addressed to the “brave members of our law enforcement community” posted on the Fraternal Order of Police’s Facebook page, Obama once again offered unequivocal support for police, acknowledging the danger they face and pledging to provide more resources.
“Some are trying to use this moment to divide police and communities you serve,” Obama wrote. “I reject those efforts, for they do not reflect the reality of our nation.”
Even as Obama has worked to calm tensions between police and minority communities who have faced disparities in the criminal justice system, law enforcement groups have bristled whenever Obama simultaneously acknowledges both sets of challenges. Some have felt the president is not on their side, or even fueled the anger that led them to be targets of violence. In recent days, especially since officers were targeted in Baton Rouge over the weekend, Obama has taken pains to keep his remarks about honoring police and fixing bias separate.
“As you continue to serve us in this tumultuous hour, we again recognize that we can no longer ask you to solve issues we refuse to address as a society,” Obama wrote. “We should give you the resources you need to do your job, including our full-throated support.”
Obama peppered the letter with the names of some of the fallen officers, and he praised the police for trying to keep protesters safe. “What is more patriotic?” he said. Law enforcement work the crime scene where Baton Rouge police were shot, in Baton Rouge, La., on Sunday.
The president has repeatedly insisted that the country is not as divided as it seems, and specifically rejected comparisons to the civil unrest of the 1960s. But in the letter, he invoked a key figure from that period, Robert Kennedy, who Obama quoted as lamenting that violence occurs when we view our neighbors as people “with whom we share a city, but not a community.”
“This is a time for us to reaffirm that we are not only a country, but also a community,” Obama continued. “This is true whether you are black or white, whether you are rich or poor, whether you are a police officer or someone they protect and serve.” Obama pledged that the country would move past this period, with the help of police and communities. “We will do it with the good will of activists like those I have sat with in recent days, who have pledged to work together to reduce violence even as they voice their disappointments and fears,” Obama wrote, his only reference to the searing mistrust of police among some groups. “We have your backs,” Obama concluded.
In a statement, National Sheriff’s Association executive director Jonathan Thompson called on the president to back up his letter with some concrete steps. Those included overturning “it’s poorly planned and executed” policy to restrict local law enforcement’s use of military equipment, pointing to “unprecedented attacks” in San Bernardino, Orlando, Dallas, Baton Rouge and elsewhere.
Thompson also called for an overhaul of programs to help people returning from prison, a more likely point of common ground with criminal justice reform activists. “We stand ready to help the president develop real fixes to the mental health challenges that are forcing our jails and prisons to become asylums,” Thompson said. “Conversely, we cannot unceremoniously release violent convicts back into our communities without resources and programs to reintegrate into society.”
Reentry reform would also require work by Congress and local governments. “Without real talk and real plans, America’s promise to our citizens will continue to erode and our safety will be at risk,” Thompson said.
Obama focuses on supporting police
By SARAH WHEATON 07/17/16
President Barack Obama expressed the unequivocal support that police have been waiting to hear on Sunday — while telling Republicans to watch their rhetoric if they want to help cops, too.
In a set of public statements amid news about the deaths of three police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Obama did not talk about guns. He did not talk about racial disparities or any other reason that people might be angry at police. He simply condemned the attack.
“Regardless of motive, the death of these three brave officers underscores the danger that police across the country confront every single day,” Obama said. “And we as a nation have to be loud and clear that nothing justifies violence against law enforcement. Attacks on police are an attack on all of us and the rule of law that makes society possible.”
That followed up on an earlier written statement in which Obama was equally definitive: “These attacks are the work of cowards who speak for no one. They right no wrongs. They advance no causes.”
Some police representatives have criticized Obama’s responses to police-related violence over the past two weeks. They felt he was too quick to blame law enforcement and cite racial bias after police killed black men in Baton Rouge and near St. Paul, Minnesota. His responses to the assassination of five officers in Dallas, while acknowledging the challenges and heroism of policing, also dwelled on its failures, adding to their frustration. The leader of one leading police union even suggested Obama had contributed to the Dallas attacks, saying the president was taking the wrong side in a “war on cops.”
But on Sunday, Obama suggested that he’s not the only one responsible for watching his mouth when it comes to police safety. “I know we’re about to enter a couple of weeks of conventions where our political rhetoric tends to be more overheated than usual,” Obama said during his in-person remarks. “And that is why it is so important that everyone — regardless of race or political party or profession, regardless of what organizations you are a part of — everyone right now focus on words and actions that can unite this country rather than divide it further. We don’t need inflammatory rhetoric. We don’t need careless accusations thrown around to score political points or to advance an agenda.”
Donald Trump left no mystery as to whether he’d take the president’s advice. “President Obama just had a news conference, but he doesn’t have a clue,” the presumptive Republican nominee tweeted 17 minutes after Obama stopped talking. “Our country is a divided crime scene, and it will only get worse!”
Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, was more on board with Obama’s message, condemning the attacks “an assault on all of us” and echoing his call for unity in a statement that came out just as he started talking.
Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, praised Obama’s tenor, calling his initial statement “strong and timely.” Pasco added, “I think that he’s making every effort to strike the right tone.” Pasco said he’d been in touch with the White House and Justice Department throughout the day, swapping information and receiving condolences.
But after attending two meetings with Obama — one just for law enforcement Monday and another with activists and academics Wednesday — Pasco said that while “the president is trying really hard,” unity seems like it’s a long way off. “I see plenty of will to talk and argue,” Pasco said. “I don’t see a lot of will for constructive change.” He added, “The fact that we’re talking at all gives me hope.”