President Obama said Saturday it’s hard to “untangle the motives” of the shooterwho killed five Dallas police officers, despite the gunman telling police he wanted to kill white police officers.
Mr. Obama made the comment at a press conference in Warsaw, Poland, where he also issued another call for gun control in the wake of the Dallas shootings.
“I think it’s very hard to untangle the motives of this shooter,” Mr. Obama said of the gunman, Micah X. Johnson. “By definition if you shoot people who pose no threat to you, you have a troubled mind.”
Dallas police said Johnson told them before he was killed that he specifically was targeting white police officers for killing, and he was upset about the Black Lives Matter movement.
Mr. Obama praised the professionalism of the Dallas police, remarking about “what a tough job they have, and how well they do it.”
He also said police would be safer if the U.S. enacted tougher gun laws.
“If you care about the safety of our police officers, you can’t set aside the gun issue and pretend that’s irrelevant,” Mr. Obama said. “It is a contributing factor, not the sole factor but a contributing factor, to the broader tensions that arise between the police and the communities they serve. The problem is, even mention of it somehow evokes this polarization.”
Noting that it’s been “a tough week” in the U.S., the president said America “is not as divided as some have suggested.”
“Americans of all races and all backgrounds are rightly outraged by the inexcusable attacks on police, whether it’s in Dallas or anyplace else,” Mr. Obama said at the summit of NATO. “That includes protesters. It includes family members who have grave concerns about police conduct and they’ve said that this is unacceptable. There’s no division there.”
Mr. Obama also addressed what he views as his legacy on race relations as America’s first black president, saying he’s speaking out about racial disparities to forge “a country that is more just and more united and more equal.”
“What I hope is that my voice has tried to get all of us as Americans to understand the difficult legacy of race, to encourage people to listen to each other, to recognize that the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow and discrimination didn’t suddenly vanish with the passage of the Civil Rights Act or the Voting Rights Act or the election of Barack Obama,” he said.
“We plant seeds, and somebody else maybe sits under the shade of the tree that we planted. As best I could, I have been true in speaking about these issues.”