The head of a law enforcement advocacy group lashed out at President Barack Obama in the wake of the Dallas shootings that left five police officers dead, accused the president of carrying out a “war on cops.”
“I think [the Obama administration] continued appeasements at the federal level with the Department of Justice, their appeasement of violent criminals, their refusal to condemn movements like Black Lives Matter, actively calling for the death of police officers, that type of thing, all the while blaming police for the problems in this country has led directly to the climate that has made Dallas possible,” William Johnson, the executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, said in an interview with Fox on Friday morning.
Johnson said although the Thursday night shooting of law enforcement officers reminded him of “the violence in the streets in the 60’s and 70’s,” he pointed out how Obama’s response appeared different than his predecessors.
“I think one of the big differences then was you had governors and mayors and the president — whether it was President Johnson or President Nixon, Republican or Democrat — condemning violence against the police and urging support for the police,” Johnson said. “Today that’s markedly absent. I think that’s a huge difference, and that’s directly led to the climate that allows these attacks to happen.”
“It’s a war on cops,” Johnson also said. “And the Obama administration is the Neville Chamberlain of this war.”
Obama on Friday morning strongly condemned the Dallas shootings, which happened at the end of a protest about the killings of two black men by police officers earlier this week, as a “vicious, calculated and despicable attack.”
“Let’s be clear there are no possible justifications for these attacks or any violence towards law enforcement,” he said from Warsaw, Poland, where he is attending a NATO meeting
On Thursday, before the Dallas shootings, Obama tried to strike a balance as he talked about anger and grief in the African-American community after the latest killings by police and the feeling among some law enforcement officials that Obama has not always supported them.
“To be concerned about these issues is not to be against law enforcement,” he said. ”When people say black lives matter, it doesn’t mean blue lives don’t matter.”
Other law enforcement groups on Friday called for better relationships between cops and their communities.
DC Police Union Secretary Jimmy White admitted there was a clear racial disparity in the criminal justice system, and police officers needed better relationships with their communities.
“To put all the blame on one aspect of the problem is incorrect. You can’t just say it’s only Obama that has created this culture,” White told POLITICO on Friday. “We have to look into communities, into employment, we have to look into everything.”
“It just seems that there could be more effort by our government as far as making sure that the playing field is leveled,” the secretary said.
White also criticized trends on social media like #BlueLivesMatter or #BlackLivesMatter, saying “we focus too much” on labels instead of addressing the community’s needs.
“There is a balance between giving the public what they want and keeping our police officers safe,” he said. “We are hurting as an agency and as a union and we just wish that the events of yesterday did not happen and never happen again. We will grow, we will heal from this, and we will watch each other’s backs.”
Chuck Canterbury, national President of the Fraternal Order of Police, said he would encourage the Department of Justice to investigate the Dallas shooting as a hate crime.
“Nobody should die because of the color of their skin and nobody should die because of the color of the uniform that they’re wearing either,” he said in an interview with NPR on Friday.
Canterbury added that individual officers “are not in control of their training,” pointing out that police in Chicago “have been asking for Taser training for almost eight years.”
“Less-than-lethal methods need to be improved every day. Police officers would like that. Nobody goes to work, pins on a badge or a star and wants to end somebody else’s life,” the FOP president said.