The president will attempt to speak to the concerns of police today in Dallas. It’s worth noting that, in the wake of the Dallas police shootings, many police officials are extremely unhappy with the president’s approach. Politico has a story outlining some recent comments from national police organizations, many of which were invited to the White House for a discussion Monday:
The finger-pointing escalated after the massacre of five police officers in Dallas during a peaceful protest against the deaths of the black men. William Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, bluntly blamed Obama during a television interview on Friday for a “war on cops” and calling the Obama administration “the Neville Chamberlain of this war.” (Johnson was also among those who attended the Roosevelt Room meeting on Monday, according to the White House.)
“If I stand in the shoes of the average deputy or sheriff, I can see how they might perceive that,” said Thompson of the “war on cops” sentiment. There’s a resentment, he said, that politicians, journalists and the public “presuppose what happened in the 30 seconds leading up to any video” and assume the result is irresponsible.
The Washington Post reports that Obama made a surprise drop-in at the Monday meeting and directly confronted Thompson on those comments:
One attendee, the National Association of Police Organizations’ executive director, William Johnson, last week accused Obama of being “the Neville Chamberlain” in the “war on cops” that is underway in America.
The president took on that criticism directly, Johnson said, saying he was not encouraging violence against law enforcement and had publicly criticized anyone who encouraged such action over the weekend while he was traveling in Spain.
Johnson said he appreciated Obama speaking out against violence aimed at police officers, but he said he feels that it has not been enough.
“We need that strong talk before” an incident happens, Johnson said in an interview.
It sounds as if Obama thinks telling people not to be violent somehow proves he’s different from Chamberlain. But the point of the comparison is not that Chamberlain didn’t reject violence it’s that he brokered a false peace that led to much more violence in the long run.
In any case, Johnson is not alone in feeling Obama has not taken the side of the police strongly enough. Cleveland police Union Chief Steve Loomis appeared on Fox News yesterday and said, “I don’t know how we got to this point in this country where the police are the enemy.” He added, “You know I think the media has a lot to do with it. I think the false narrative that’s out there and certainly when the President of the United States gets on TV and uses very divisive language…that just serves to incite a very small group of people who have an agenda.
“When you’re hearing from legitimate politicians, the President of the United States down to local prosecutors, speaking in this very divisive way before one day of investigation is completed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana or up in Minnesota, that’s very hurtful and those gentlemen are going to have lots to answer for. That’s inciteful and they have blood on their hands, they have blood that they’re not going to be able to wash off.”
When you have police officials comparing the president to Neville Chamberlain and saying he has blood on his hands, he’s probably not going to win them over with a speech that attempts to leave room to find a middle ground with Black Lives Matter. Loomis statement begins about 3 minutes in to this clip: