Skip to main content

The Brief: In Dallas, Obama Calls for Unity to “Do What Is Right”

President Barack Obama was joined by his predecessor George W. Bush and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings in a memorial service for five slain police officers to call for healing across the country.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings shakes Chief of Police David Brown's hand as former President Bush, President Obama, their wives, U.S. Sens. Cornyn and Cruz and others applaud on July 12, 2016.

The Big Conversation

President Barack Obama joined his predecessor George W. Bush and Mayor Mike Rawlings in Dallas on Tuesday to call for the country to unify as it grieves in the aftermath of an attack that left five police officers dead last week and complicated the nation’s debate over race and policing.

“With an open heart, we can worry less about which side has been wronged and worry more about joining sides to do what is right,” Obama said at a memorial honoring the officers who were killed by sniper fire in Dallas last Thursday. 

The attack came at the end of an otherwise peaceful march in protest of the recent deaths of black men at the hands of police in Louisiana and Minnesota. As the Tribune’s Johnathan Silver reported from Dallas, Obama addressed those incidents in his speech Tuesday, calling “upon Americans to reject those who would try to use the events in Texas, Louisiana and Minnesota to paint police officers or protesters with one broad brush,” Silver writes.

Obama argued that all Americans, regardless of their feelings on the phrase Black Lives Matter” — a rallying cry for critics of aggressive policing — could understand the loss of the families of the black men killed in Louisiana and Minnesota. People calling for the harm of police, meanwhile, “do a disservice to the very cause of justice that they claim to promote,” Obama said.

After the memorial, commentators were quick to compare Obama’s remarks to speeches he delivered in response to other mass shootings over the course of his presidency — such as the 2012 massacre at a school in Newtown, Conn., and the shooting deaths of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., last year.

Warren Asmus, a chief in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, praised the speech for addressing race and police relations in an interview with The New York Times. “He started to build that bridge that I think hasn’t been built for a long time,” he said. “From what I heard today, I see it as a turning point.”

Trib Must Reads

How a Decade in Texas Changed Elizabeth Warren, by Isabelle Taft — Whether she is tapped as Hillary Clinton's running mate or just as one of the campaign's go-to surrogates, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren will likely spend much of the fall imparting to voters a political worldview that was forged in Texas.

Abbott to Miss GOP Convention Due to Burns, by Patrick Svitek — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will not attend the Republican National Convention as he recovers from severe burns he suffered during a family vacation, according to his office.

Analysis: Cutting the Texas Budget, But Only Hypothetically, by Ross Ramsey — It’s routine for top state leaders to ask government agencies to tighten their belts, but don’t get the kooky idea that the state budget will shrink. This is just an exercise.

Lawmakers Ask Whether Agencies Abused Emergency Leave Policy, by Madlin Mekelburg — Lawmakers peppered policy experts with questions about whether state agencies who keep departing employees on the state payroll by placing them on "emergency leave" violated state law, during a hearing on Tuesday.

New Child Welfare Chief Asks Lawmakers for Cooperation, by Morgan Smith — The new chief of the state's beleaguered child welfare system had a clear message for Texas lawmakers Tuesday: Time has run out for business as usual.

The Day Ahead

•    The House Committee on Public Health and the House budget subcommittee with oversight of spending on health and human services will hold a joint meeting at 9 a.m. at the Capitol Extension to hear testimony on and study the state’s trauma system.

•    The House budget subcommittee with oversight of spending on health and human services meets at 1 p.m. in the Capitol Extension to hear testimony on hospital reimbursement methodologies.

•    The State Water Implementation Fund for Texas Advisory Committee meets at 11 a.m. in the Capitol Extension.


(Links below lead to outside websites; content might be behind paywall)

Cornyn proposes bill to make killing police a federal crimeThe Dallas Morning News

'Underneath it all, we still care about one another': Dallas reflects on Obama's speechThe Dallas Morning News

Have the Dallas Police Improved? Depends on Whom You Ask, The New York Times

Police chief declares ‘staffing emergency’ in wake of Dallas shootings, Austin American-Statesman

President Obama to participate in prime-time town hall on racePolitico

Former KKK grand wizard David Duke considering congressional run after Dallas attack, The Dallas Morning News

Garcia: San Antonian will serve as Abbott’s convention replacement, San Antonio Express-News

UT regents to consider campus carry rules on offices, chambered rounds, Austin American-Statesman

Defaults among U.S. drillers hit record, Houston Chronicle

Lawsuit argues Austin’s police body camera bid process was unfair, Austin American-Statesman

Fort Bend County residents grapple with an unexpected consequence of growth, Houston Chronicle

HPD testing new, safer police chase gadgets, Houston Chronicle

Quote to Note

There is no greater love than this — that these five men gave their lives for all of us.” 

 — Dallas Police Chief David Brown, at a memorial service honoring the police officers shot and killed at the end of a protest last week

Today in TribTalk

Donna Lake community must unite to end toxic fish crisis, by Josué Ramirez and Brooke Lyssy — We urge the EPA, Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Donna Irrigation District to create more opportunities for meaningful engagement with those who risk contamination on a daily basis.

News From Home

•    Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, the 2016 Libertarian Party nominee for president; Grammy Award-winning musician and Alamo enthusiast Phil Collins; Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick top the list of new speakers added to the 2016 Texas Tribune Festival lineup this week. Early bird pricing ends on Thursday so register today.

•    In the last week, we've published several investigations into what happens when border watchdogs turn criminal — from smuggling drugs and immigrants to getting mixed up with Mexican cartels. Revisit our Bordering on Insecurity project.

•    Some pundits are convinced a purple Texas is around the corner due to the state's burgeoning Latino population. Yet Texas gets redder and redder. Visit Pasadena, Texas, where Oscar Del Toro is registering potential voters as he plans his own city council race, in this installment of Postcards From The Great Divide, a series of short films about politics in nine states.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•   Life on the Border: Rhetoric or Reality? on Aug. 4 at The Centennial Club in McAllen

•   The Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 23-25 at the University of Texas at Austin

•   TribFeast: A Dinner To Support Nonprofit Journalism on Sept. 24 at the University of Texas at Austin's Etter-Harbin Alumni Center

Texans need truth. Help us report it.

Yes, I'll donate today

Explore related story topics