Weekly Address: Vice President Biden – Standing Together to Stop the Violence

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, Vice President Joe Biden commemorated the lives of the five police officers who were killed and the seven people who were wounded in Dallas. The police officers were providing safety to those who were peacefully marching against racial injustices in the criminal justice system – and the shocking images of the lives lost in St. Paul and Baton Rouge. Echoing the remarks of Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Police Chief David Brown, the Vice President called on the American people to act with unity and to stop the violence. He emphasized that it is the responsibility of everyone to speak out against disparities within the criminal justice system, just as much as it is the responsibility of everyone to stand up for the police who protect us every day. Because together, we as a nation will persevere and overcome.

Transcript: Weekly Address: Standing Together to Stop the Violence

Remarks of Vice President Joe Biden as Prepared for Delivery, Weekly Address, The White House, July 9, 2016

Although I didn’t know the five police officers who were killed, or the seven who were wounded in Dallas this week – I knew them.

They were the folks I grew up with: The boy with the most courage and the most compassion; the man with a brave heart and a generous soul, whose words were always encouraging; the son who made his mother proud every time he turned and smiled at her; and the friend who you could always count on. Being a cop wasn’t just what they did. It was who they were—like every officer who joined for essentially the same reason. There was something about them that made them think they could help, that they should serve, that they had a duty.

So when an assassin’s bullet targeted the police force in Dallas, it touched the soul of the nation. Those killed and wounded were protecting the safety of those who were peacefully protesting against racial injustices in the criminal justice system. Those who were marching against the kind of shocking images we saw in St. Paul and Baton Rouge—and have seen too often elsewhere—of too many black lives lost.

I believe the Dallas Police Department is one of the finest in the nation—and this incredibly diverse city can bridge any divide. To paraphrase Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, let us use our words carefully. Let us act with unity, not division. As Dallas Police Chief David Brown—one of the leading chiefs in America—said, “There are no words to describe the atrocity that occurred to our city, all I know is that this must stop, this divisiveness between our police and our citizens.”

As Americans, we are wounded by all of these deaths. It’s on all of us to stand up, to speak out about disparities in our criminal justice system—just as it’s on all of us to stand up for the police who protect us in our communities every day. In the days and weeks ahead, we’ll continue offering our thoughts and prayers to provide comfort to the broken-hearted families. But they will only be redeemed by the courage of our actions that honor their memories.

So while we’re being tested, we can’t be pulled apart. We are America, with bonds that hold us together. We endure, we persevere, we overcome, we stand together.

Bolding added.




  1. Mayor Mike Rawlings of Dallas, spoke at a gathering Friday:

    Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings on Friday called for change and blamed his own generation for allowing racial tensions to “fester,” speaking at a prayer vigil in the city’s Thanks-Giving Square. […]

    “This is on my generation of leaders. It is on our watch that we have allowed this to continue to fester, that we have led the next generation down a vicious path of rhetoric and actions that pit one against the other,” Rawlings said, as the crowd applauded. “I believe in dealing with this issue, we must step up our game and approach complicated issues in a different way. And race is complicated.”

    He called on people to consider both sides of the complicated debate, denouncing police brutality while praising honorable law enforcement officers.

    “The question is: Can we, as citizens, speak against the actions of a relatively few officers who blemish the reputation of their high-calling and at the same time, support and defend the 99% of officers who do their job professionally, honestly and bravely?” he said. “I think we can and I think we must.”

    He also asked the community to “truly and deeply understand” the pain caused by racial discrimination and slavery, which he called “the greatest sin in America.”

    • The Mayor invited the president to visit Dallas next week and the details are being worked out. From the White House press office:

      On Saturday, the President will depart for Madrid, Spain, where he will spend the night. The President will participate in meetings with his Spanish counterpart and other government officials on Sunday then travel to Rota as previously scheduled to speak to military personnel serving there. The President will return to Washington on Sunday night – one day earlier than planned. The President will no longer travel to Seville.

      The President has accepted an invitation from Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings to travel to Dallas early next week. Later in the week, at the White House, the President will continue the work to bring people together to support our police officers and communities, and find common ground by discussing policy ideas for addressing the persistent racial disparities in our criminal justice system. We’ll have more details about next week’s activities as soon as they are available.

      • The trip to Seville was for this:

        … he would have toured the cathedral and royal palace with Spanish King Filipe VI.

        He will still visit the naval base in Rota and speak to the troops.

  2. Dallas Police Chief David Brown, yesterday:

    Dallas Police Chief David Brown said that the shooting during a massive demonstration Thursday night should not affect citizens’ right to protest.

    “We are not going to let a coward who would ambush police officers change our democracy,” he said during a press conference Friday morning. “We are not gonna do it. Our city, our country, is better than that.”

    “Police are guardians of this great democracy,” he said earlier in the briefing. “Freedom to protest, freedom of speech, freedom for expression — all freedoms we fight for with our lives. It’s what makes us who we are as Americans.”

    “We risk our lives for those rights. We won’t militarize our policing standards.”

    More on Chief Brown’s work in building his department:

    The morning after a gunman targeted and killed five law enforcement officers, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings called it “ironic” that his city was the target of the worst police loss-of-life since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

    Ironic because the police department says it has taken great strides to avoid the kind of confrontations and incidents that have led to distrust and frayed race relations in some communities. “This police department trained in de-escalation far before cities across America did it,” Rawlings told reporters Friday. “We are one of the premier community policing cities in the country.”

    According to data from the Dallas Police Department, the number of complaints alleging excessive and improper use of force has fallen from 147 in 2009 to 13 through mid-November of 2015. … Even more dramatically, the department reports that the number of shootings involving police went from 23 in 2012 to just one this year (before last night).

    By the way, the chief was allowed to fire 70 officers in order to drain the swamp to rebuild his department – something that police unions have resisted. The police union leadership owns a lot of this when they insist on protecting bad cops who damage the reputation of their entire profession and add unnecessary risk to an already dangerous job.

    • More about Chief Brown:

      Even before five police officers were killed Thursday at the site of a Black Lives Matter protest where seven other people were wounded, Brown had become all-too familiar with grief, pummeled by it again and again in his career and personal life.

      Before this week, violence had already taken from him a former partner, a brother, a son.

      “There are some people who would just shut down, and they would have others conducting the interviews,” said Keith Humphrey, the police chief of Norman, Okla. “But that is not David. He realized the community wants to hear from him. The nation wants to hear from him.”

    • Two additional stories on the Dallas Police Department’s transformation …

      The Dallas Police Department Has Been A Model For Confronting Police Brutality

      This tragedy is intensified by the fact that the DPD’s records show that the department has served as an example of how to address the issue of police misconduct through de-escalation of force training, community policing, and large amounts of cooperation and understanding between the force and the community.

      Some Things You Need to Know About the Dallas Police Department

      How the Dallas police chief dealt with excessive police force and why we need to have his back.

  3. In the News: Hillary Clinton spoke in Philadelphia

    On Friday evening, Hillary Clinton spoke in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

    Clinton spoke about the events of the week: the police killing of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; the police shooting of Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minnesota; and the sniper attack in Dallas, Texas that killed five police officers and wounded several others. Clinton said that each of the killings were “senseless” and condemned violence saying, “We know there is something wrong in this country. There is too much violence, too much hate, too much senseless killing. Too many people dead who shouldn’t be.”

    Clinton spoke about the racial divide that only seems to be growing saying, “As we know, there is clear evidence that African-Americans are much more likely to be killed in police incidents than any other group of Americans. And we know there is too little trust in too many places between police and the communities they are sworn to protect.” Clinton said that good law enforcement officers far outnumber those who are bad and a violent response to violence is not the answer.

    Transcript (PDF)

    • More about the Mother Bethel AME Church:

      Just as their religious ancestors did exactly two centuries ago, members of the AME Church made a pilgrimage to Philadelphia on Wednesday for the opening of the denomination’s General Conference.

      They gathered not only to remember their history, but to continue to forge a path toward racial justice.

      [Richard] Allen started Bethel AME Church after watching white officials of St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church pull up his friend, clergyman Absalom Jones, who was praying on his knees. […]

      AME Church historiographer Teresa Fry Brown said the anniversary highlights a significant legal achievement by a religious organization of African-Americans.

      “We had to fight all the way to high court,” she said of the battle that was resolved by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. “The Methodist Episcopal Church resisted an independent black denomination.”

  4. Reactions and photos from Dallas of a community coming together to mourn:

    The shooting attack that killed five police officers and injured seven others in Dallas after a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest Thursday night sparked a torrent of angry recriminations from politicians and pundits on television and social media. But the tragedy also led to an outpouring of support for the Dallas Police Department, the officers who were killed, and their families.

    Many protesters were quick to remind the public that the demonstration had been peaceful leading up to the attack, and that police officers and bystanders rushed to protect people throughout the chaos. People began bringing flowers to the Dallas police department the same night of the attack, and on Friday some came out in support for the slain officers, placing bouquets on top of two squad cars that had been set up as a memorial.

    Some Tweets from that story:

  5. Attorney General Loretta Lynch weighs in:

    From the transcript:

    This has been a week of profound grief and heartbreaking loss. The peaceful protest that was planned in Dallas last night was organized in response to the tragic deaths of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota. We have opened a civil rights investigation in Louisiana and we are providing assistance to local authorities in Minnesota who are leading the investigation there. Today, we are feeling the devastating loss of Dallas Area Rapid Transit Officer Brent Thompson and four other fallen officers whose names remain unreleased as we await notification of all the families. After the events of this week, Americans across the county are feeling a sense of helplessness, of uncertainty and of fear. These feelings are understandable and they are justified. But the answer must not be violence. The answer is never violence.

  6. In the News: Democrats still crafting platform

    Different factions of the party are deadlocked over platform language on the sweeping Trans Pacific Partnership, which Obama hopes to push through the U.S. Congress later this year.

    The current draft, which will be ratified at the July 25-28 Democratic convention in Philadelphia, acknowledges “a diversity of views” over the TPP.

    While the platform is not binding for candidates, it is a symbol of a party’s core values.

    Labor unions and other TPP critics have called for a clear condemnation of the pact, which they fear could lead to steep U.S. job losses in manufacturing. But some Democrats say that would risk undercutting Obama.

    U.S. Representative Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, a Clinton appointee to the platform committee, told the Washington Post that while he had a long history of opposing trade pacts, he did not want Democrats on the other side of the issue to think they are not important.

    Gutierrez also said he thought “disregarding the position of the president of the United States” was not right.

  7. In the News: No, Newt Gingrich did not get a racial epiphany

    “If you are a normal, white American, the truth is you don’t understand being black in America and you instinctively under-estimate the level of discrimination and the level of additional risk.” [Newt Gingrich said in a Facebook chat with Van Jones].

    Nice sentiments but if either normal=white or white-people-who-work-to-understand-race=abnormal, then you are doing it wrong.

    Considering Gingrich’s history, it’s hard to believe he’s suddenly sincere about addressing structural racism.

    In 2010, Gingrich accused President Obama of engaging in “Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior.” Those comments came a year after he called then-Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor a “racist” for her comments about how being “a wise Latina woman” might help her come to better legal conclusions. Two years before that, Gingrich claimed that bilingual education teaches “the language of living in a ghetto.” Perhaps most infamously, when he was House Speaker, Gingrich proposed that the federal government should take children born out of wedlock to women under 18 and put them in orphanages. […]

    Gingrich, like Trump, has advocated for profiling as a counterterrorism strategy. He also dog whistled about black-on-black crime during Friday’s Facebook Live broadcast, saying that part of the reason it’s more dangerous to be black is “because of the crime, which is the Chicago story.”

  8. From the President, earlier today:

    “President Barack Obama said Saturday that the gunman responsible for killing five Dallas police officers was a “demented individual” who does not represent black Americans any more than a white man accused of killing blacks at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, represents whites.

    “So we cannot let the actions of a few define all of us,” Obama said.” 

    (News from The Associated Press)

    Video from White House

    Transcript: Remarks by President Obama at Press Conference After NATO Summit

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