WATCH ABOVE: ‘This is unacceptable’: President Obama addresses deadly shootings across country
President Barack Obama will travel to Dallas, Tx. on Tuesday to try and help the city begin to heal after five of its police officers were slain in the line of duty last week by an Army veteran-turned sniper during a brazen act of violence.
Obama will speak at an interfaith memorial service for the officers, who were killed last Thursday while standing guard as hundreds of people peacefully protested the police killings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota earlier in the week.
The attack ended with the gunman, Micah Johnson, 25, blown up by a bomb delivered by a police robot. The black Army veteran portrayed the attack on the white officers as payback for the fatal police shootings of black men in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and suburban Minneapolis.
The president denounced the shooting and called it a “vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement” by a “demented” individual.
Portions of both shootings were videotaped and broadcast nationwide, leading to fresh outrage, protests and scores of arrests. The killings also put the country on edge, heightened racial tensions and pushed the issue of the use of deadly force against black males by white police officers to the forefront.
VIDEO: Hundreds gather for candle light vigil in Dallas
Obama will seek to bridge those issues with his tribute to the fallen five, which include a former Army Ranger, a Navy veteran and a newlywed starting a second family. The president, along with First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden, and Biden’s wife Jill, will meet privately with the families of the slain officers, and those injured. At least nine officers and two civilians were wounded in the attack.
Former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, will also attend. Bush, who settled in Dallas after leaving office in 2009, will also speak at the service.
Addressing tributes to innocent people has become an unwelcome but regular duty of his presidency. It was just a few weeks ago when Obama spent hours consoling the loved ones of 49 people who were killed in a shooting rampage at an Orlando, Florida nightclub.
Obama and Biden met Monday with police chiefs, sheriffs and rank-and-file officers to discuss adopting a series of reforms that were drafted by a White House task force on policing, as well as how to restore trust between police officers and the communities they are sworn to serve and protect.
Obama planned a meeting Wednesday with a broader group that includes law enforcement, activists and academics.
(with files from the Associated Press)