Following a sniper attack on police a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas, Texas, in which five officers were killed and seven wounded, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump canceled a series of campaign events in South Florida, and issued a statement:
Last night’s horrific execution-style shootings of 12 Dallas law enforcement officers—five of whom were killed and seven wounded—is an attack on our country. It is a coordinated, premeditated assault on the men and women who keep us safe.
He also took a moment to respond to the events that immediately preceded the sniper attack: the killing of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police in Louisiana and Minnesota, respectively.
We must restore law and order. We must restore the confidence of our people to be safe and secure in their homes and on the street.
The senseless, tragic deaths of two motorists in Louisiana and Minnesota reminds us how much more needs to be done. [Sterling was not actually a motorist.]
This morning I offer my thoughts and prayers for all of the victims’ families, and we pray for our brave police officers and first responders who risk their lives to protect us every single day.
Our nation has become too divided. Too many Americans feel like they’ve lost hope. Crime is harming too many citizens. Racial tensions have gotten worse, not better. This isn’t the American Dream we all want for our children.
This is a time, perhaps more than ever, for strong leadership, love and compassion. We will pull through these tragedies.
Trump’s critics are bound to argue that Trump has cynically exploited and worsened those divisions:
- During the GOP primary debate in Jan. 2016, he said police officers were “the most mistreated people in this country.”
- He described BLM as “looking for trouble,” in an interview with Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly.
- In a Nov. 2015 interview with GQ, he reiterated that “all lives matter.”
- That same month, he publicly justified the beating of a BLM protester by Trump supporters at a rally in Alabama: “Maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.”
Nevertheless, this was one of the Trump campaign’s most considered and conciliatory moments to date.
This post has been updated.