Statement as prepared for delivery
Good morning, and thank you all for being here.
Last night, at least five police officers were shot and killed, and several more were injured – along with two civilians – as they sought to protect a peaceful protest in Dallas, Texas. Our thoughts and condolences go out to the families who have lost loved ones. The Department of Justice – including the FBI, ATF, U.S. Marshals Service and U.S. Attorney’s Office – is working closely with our state and local counterparts, and we intend to provide any assistance we can to investigate this attack, and to heal a community that has been severely shaken and deeply scarred by an unfathomable tragedy. This is an unfolding situation and we will provide additional information when it is available and appropriate.
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.
Rather, the answer must be action: calm, peaceful, collaborative and determined action. We must continue working to build trust between communities and law enforcement. We must continue working to guarantee every person in this country equal justice under the law. We must take a hard look at the ease with which wrongdoers can get their hands on deadly weapons and the frequency with which they use them. We must reflect on the kind of country we want to build and the kind of society we want to pass on to our children. We must reject the easy impulses of bitterness and rancor and embrace the difficult work of finding a path forward together. Above all, we must remind ourselves that we are all Americans – and that, as Americans, we share not just a common land, but a common life. Those we have lost this week have come from different neighborhoods and backgrounds – but today, they are mourned by officers and residents, by family and friends – by men and women and children who loved them, who needed them and who will miss them always. They are mourned by all of us.
To the families of all who lost their lives in this series of tragedies, we share your pain and your loss. To our brothers and sisters who wear the badge: I want you to know that I am deeply grateful for the difficult and dangerous work you do every day to keep our streets safe and our nations secure. I am heartbroken at this loss. And the Department of Justice will do all we can to support you in the days ahead. To those who seek to improve our country through peaceful protest and protected speech: I want you to know that your voice is important. Do not be discouraged by those who use your lawful actions as cover for their heinous violence. We will continue to safeguard your constitutional rights and to work with you in the difficult mission of building a better nation and a brighter future. And to all Americans: I ask you not to allow the events of this week to precipitate a “new normal” in our country. I ask you to turn to each other, not against each other as we move forward. Let us support one another. Let us help heal one another. And I urge you to remember, today and every day, that we are one nation. We are one people. And we stand together. May God bless the families and loved ones of all who were taken from us this week and comfort their grief with his everlasting grace. And may God bless the United States of America.