President Barack Obama on Monday described the Dallas shooting as a “hate crime” against police, according to a top law enforcement representative in the meeting with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
“One really striking thing the president said in his opening remarks was that the shooting in Dallas in many ways was strikingly parallel to the Dylann Roof shooting in Charleston in the sense that it was a hate crime,” said Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, in an interview with POLITICO.
During the nearly two-hour session, Obama told Pasco and seven other police association officials that if Micah Johnson were still alive, he would have been prosecuted for a hate crime, “which is quite a precedent from our standpoint,” Pasco said. Hate crime prosecutions are seen as a recognition that victims were targeted because of their race, religion, or some other characteristic, and they can carry greater penalties.
Pasco, who has been critical of the administration’s tone toward police, said he “very much” appreciated the remark.
“At the end of the meeting I asked him to reiterate that publicly,” Pasco said.
Perhaps the president realized he has been more than a little tone deaf in matters regarding the police. Perhaps someone merely told him he has been and instructed him to make a peace offering, however insincere.
For the sake of the nation, I hope it is the former. It would be a step in the right direction if the people presently in charge of the United States decided for once that they were on the side of law enforcement, rather than law breakers.
Should the president reiterate his statement publicly, let us hope that it has a calming effect, even if it is a small one.
The people who demonize law enforcement for profit (see: DeRay Mckesson) may not see it that way.
We will know soon.