President Barack Obama has stoked the flames of a "war on cops," the head of a national police union said after five Dallas police officers were slain in an ambush.
After arriving in Poland for a NATO summit on July 7, the commander-in-chief addressed the shooting deaths of two black men in Louisiana and Minnesota at the hands of police officers over the previous two days. Victims Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were shot by officers at point blank range in two separate incidents, and both deaths were caught on video, resulting in clips that quickly went viral as people across the country expressed outrage.
In a speech from a Warsaw hotel, Obama said racial biases in police culture "have to be rooted out," according to The Wall Street Journal. The shootings "should trouble all of us," Obama said, calling them "symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system."
Hours later, as protesters were leading a peaceful march through Dallas, five officers were gunned down and at least six others were wounded by a quartet of attackers armed with assault rifles. The attack was well-planned, authorities said, with the gunmen knowing the marching route in advance and choosing an ambush spot that allowed them to snipe the officers from atop parking garages and other vantage points.
William Johnson, the executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, said Obama's remarks were a prelude to the attacks.
“I think [the Obama administration's] 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," Johnson told Fox News.
Johnson wasn't the only law enforcement official who had critical words for the president.
Obama is "armed with powerful words and he [uses] those words irresponsibly to fuel this sort of anger toward the American police officer," Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke said on Fox News.
Clarke, who is black, accused the president of jumping to conclusions and weighing in on the shootings before learning all the facts about the shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota.
“The Commander-in-Chief opens his mouth and sticks his foot in it...exploiting things that don’t exist,” Clarke said. “He didn’t cause this, but you know what, he fuels this sort of anger, this ‘misplaced anger’ about things going on that were thousands of miles away.”
Obama appeared to strike a cautious tone in his comments before the Dallas massacre.
“To be concerned about these issues is not to be against law enforcement,” the president said, according to a transcript of his speech. ”When people say black lives matter, it doesn’t mean blue lives don’t matter.”
On July 8, the day after the Dallas shootings, Obama said he was "horrified" by the attack, saying Americans "stand united with people and the police department in Dallas."
"We still don’t know all the facts," the president said. "What we do know is that there has been a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement."