Obama praises slain Dallas police officers for saving lives at fatal protest

President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks about the events in Brussels attack before addressing Cubans at El Gran Teatro de Havana Tuesday

Obama praises slain Dallas police officers for saving lives at fatal protest

President Barack Obama will address a memorial service in Dallas on Tuesday for five policemen killed last week in a sniper attack, as he seeks to fix social divisions inflamed by the deadliest day for USA law enforcement in more than a decade.

The scene unfolded at a memorial service after a week when Americans were jarred by video images of angry crowds protesting police killings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota and heard the screams of Thursday's sniper attack on police in Dallas by a black former USA soldier who had said he wanted to "kill white people".

He noted that the Dallas attack came during a protest against racial discrimination in policing that followed the fatal police shootings of black men in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and outside St Paul, Minnesota.

President Barack Obama and other officials who spoke Tuesday at a memorial for five Dallas police officers killed last week urged Americans to corral their anger and sadness and push for the change society needs.

"It is as if the deepest fault lines of our democracy have suddenly been exposed, perhaps even widened". "With an open heart we can stand in each other's shoes and look at the world through each other's eyes", said Obama. "Instead, we have public servants, police officers, like the men who were taken away from us". Dallas proved that. But one person's errant action can ruin lives and taint the reputation of others.

Obama praised police for protecting and serving the people. 'I will give you a new heart, ' the Lord says, 'and put a new spirit in you. "We have too many bridges to build that we will cross together".

Rawlings also said that the service should be about unity. Argument turns too easily into animosity.

The memorial paid a poignant tribute to the fallen "peacemakers in blue" Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Lorne Ahrens and Michael Smith.

Speaking to a packed hall, barely a mile from where the gunman opened fire last week, Obama invoked the names of the five police officers killed in the shooting rampage, describing details about each of their lives.

Obama said we flood communities with so many guns that it's easier for a kid to get a Glock than to get a computer or a book.

After a week when Americans saw video images of angry crowds protesting the police killings of black men and heard the screams of Thursday's sniper attack on police in Dallas, the memorial ended with Obama, his predecessor George W. Bush and Dallas' police chief and mayor joining hands in a gathering that crossed racial and party lines as a choir sung a hymn. I know that because I know America.

Obama has insisted since the Dallas carnage - which came during a protest over police brutality towards African Americans, one of many in cities across the nation - that the country is not headed back to the civil strife of the 1960s. We have never been held together by blood or background. Among us are Americans who fear authority and wonder if politicians' speeches - like Obama's - can indeed lead to honest, enduring change.

President Obama met privately with the officers' families after the service.

Obama referred to himself twice before finishing his opening salutations and before mentioning the slain officers or their families. They point to perceived slights dating back to his first term, and they believe he has helped stoke the flames of hatred for police. The Army veteran killed by police after the Dallas attack said he was motivated by revenge.

Another seven officers and two civilians were wounded in the attack, which marked the deadliest day for USA law enforcement since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

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