Obama visited the city five days after a deadly sniper attack killed five officers during a protest against police shootings. Seven other officers were injured, as well as two civilians.
The president spoke at an interfaith memorial service at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in front of families of the fallen police officers and members of the Dallas community.
Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and wife Jill Biden, along with former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush, were also in attendance.
“These men and their families shared a commitment to something larger than themselves,” said President Obama about the slain police officers, adding that they put their lives in harm’s way.
The president spoke about the victims, one of whom had bought dinner for a homeless man the night before the attack. Another was married just two weeks ago.
He also pointed out that Dallas police stood side by side with protesters before the attack. The department had uploaded pictures to social media of policemen with a protester. They also protected demonstrators when the shooting began.
— Dallas Police Depart (@DallasPD) July 8, 2016
When the president told the crowd about a mother who was shot and injured, but now her son wants to be a police officer, a standing ovation ensued. Shetamia Taylor, who had taken her four sons to the protest, was shot and injured by the sniper. Police protected Taylor from more harm and quickly took her to the hospital. Now, her 12-year-old son wants to be a police officer.
Obama also commended the Dallas Police Department for the decrease in murder rates over the past years, as well as fewer cases of excessive force.
“Dallas Police Department has been doing it the right way,” he said.
Obama noted an “overwhelmingly” large number of police officers are doing a good job, and agreed with Dallas Police Chief David Brown’s remarks on Monday on how people ask the police force to do too much.
He also spoke of the racial divide in America, saying that discrimination didn’t vanish after segregation and that bias remains, calling for unity.
Obama said people are mourning for the slain officers, as well as Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, who were both killed in police shootings last week.
Former President George W. Bush also spoke in his home state.
“Those of us who love Dallas and call it home have lost five members of the family,” he said.
Dallas Mayor Michael Rawlings spoke about the strength of his city, while Police Chief Brown recited the Stevie Wonder song “I’ll Be Loving You Always.”
The Obamas were scheduled to meet privately with families of the police officers who were killed, and talk to those who were injured.