Following a week of mounting racial tension in the United States, President Barack Obama will participate in a town hall event to discuss the current state of race relations and how to address the mistrust between law enforcement and the black community.
The town hall event will be held in Washington, D.C., on July 14 and will be hosted by Disney Media Networks, ABC News reports.
Obama will take questions about race, equality and the criminal justice system from local residents of Washington, D.C. The town hall event will be moderated by ABC News anchor David Muir, alongside ESPN’s Jemele Hill.
The town hall event arrives two days after Obama delivered a speech during the memorial service for the five slain Dallas police officers, addressing the growing rift between law enforcement and minority communities, according to CNN.
Hailing the fallen officers as heroes, Obama stated that “the overwhelming majority of police officers do an incredibly hard and dangerous job fairly and professionally. They are deserving of our respect and not our scorn.”
While the president’s speech praised law enforcement, he also urged for the country to have an open dialog about unfair biases against racial minorities.
The Dallas police officers were killed by a lone gunman during a Black Lives Matter rally, which had been prompted by the two police shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota.
“When African-Americans from all walks of life, from different communities across the country, voice a growing despair at what they perceive to be unequal treatment … we cannot simply turn away and dismiss those in peaceful protest as troublemakers or paranoid,” Obama said.
Obama concluded that lawmakers had to work hard to address the issues that contribute to the cycle of violence, stating that law enforcement is too often expected to do the heavy lifting.
“And then we tell the police, you are a social worker,” Obama said. “You are a parent. You are a teacher. You are a drug counselor. We tell them to keep those neighborhoods in check at any cost.”
On July 13, the president had a private meeting with 33 members of civil rights organizations, law enforcement, and lawmakers to discuss how to bridge the gap of trust between police and the black community.
Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick of Texas will be joining Obama at the town hall focused on race. Patrick had been critical of the Black Lives Matter protesters in Dallas, The Dallas Morning News reports.
The Washington, D.C., town hall will be premiering on ABC News and ESPN starting 8 p.m. Eastern Time.