President Barack Obama cautioned Americans from drawing easy conclusions from the shooting attacks that killed three law enforcement officials in Baton Rouge and wounded three others.
“As of right now, we don’t know the motive of the killer. We don’t know whether the killer set out to target police officers or whether he gunned them down as they responded to a call,” the president said at the White House today.
He also appeared to caution Republicans using the incident for political attacks, after both he and Hillary Clinton signaled sympathy with anti-police protest groups like Black Lives Matter.
“We don’t need inflammatory rhetoric. We don’t need careless accusations thrown around to score political points or to advance an agenda,” he said. “We need to temper our words and open our hearts, all of us.”
Obama argued that attacks against police officers were not new, but part of an ongoing struggle.
“We have our divisions, and they are not new,” he said. “Around the clock news cycles and social media sometimes amplify these divisions.”
The president called for Americans to come together and work to unite the country in spite of the recent attacks on police officers.
“My fellow Americans, only we can prove through words and through deeds that we will not be divided, and we’re going to have to keep on doing it again and again and again,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Obama pivoted to a strong condemnation of attacks on police officers in response to another shooting of law enforcement officials in Baton Rouge.
“I condemn, in the strongest sense of the word, the attack on law enforcement in Baton Rouge,” Obama said in a strongly worded statement issued by his press office.
Obama condemned the attacks as “cowardly and reprehensible” and referred to the shooting of Dallas police officers earlier this month in his statement.
“These are attacks on public servants, on the rule of law, and on civilized society, and they have to stop,” he said, offering support to authorities in Baton Rouge.
“Make no mistake – justice will be done,” he added.