Some conservatives were quick to blame President Barack Obama and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for a shooting in Dallas that killed five police officers and injured several others.
Police negotiated for several hours with gunman Micah Xavier Johnson, who told them he was upset about Black Lives Matter and several recent shootings of black men by police officers. Police said Johnson told them he wanted specifically to kill white officers.
Obama was partly to blame for Johnson’s hatred, according to some conservatives.
“I am saddened and angered by those who believe they have a right to do harm to the men and women who put their lives on the line every single day to protect the communities in which they live,” Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas) said in a statement. “The spread of misinformation and constant instigation by prominent leaders, including our president, have contributed to the modern day hostility we are witnessing between the police and those they serve. As a result, today we are seeing one of the noblest professions condemned by those who could benefit the most.”
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) blamed Obama for Thursday’s Dallas shooting because of the way he reacted in 2009 when Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was arrested by Sgt. James Crowley while trying to enter his home. Obama said at the time that Crowley acted “stupidly.”
While, Sarah Palin didn’t mention Obama by name, the former Alaska governor criticized politicians for causing the division that led to the attack in Dallas.
“Shame on our culture’s influencers who would stir contention and division that could lead to evil such as that in Dallas. Shame on politicians and pundits giving credence to thugs rioting against police officers and the rule of law in the name of ‘peaceful protests,’” she wrote on Facebook. “It is a farce. #BlackLivesMatter is a farce.”
On Thursday, Obama addressed the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, who were both killed by police in separate incidents this week, and noted that the killings were “systematic of a broader set of disparities that exist in our criminal justice system.” At the same time, Obama noted police have a “dangerous job” and have to make “split-second decisions.”
“To be concerned about these issues is not to be against law enforcement,” Obama said.
In the aftermath of the incident, former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) wrote in a tweet, which has since been deleted, that Obama and Black Lives Matter protesters should “watch out” because “real America” was coming for them. In a later tweet Walsh said that he wasn’t calling for violence against Obama, but did say he was responsible for police officers dying.
Heather Mac Donald, a proponent of the so-called “Ferguson effect” said on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show that Obama had lied to the American people by claiming African-Americans were unfairly targeted by police officers.
“President Obama lied to the nation last night and he embraced the Black Lives Matter myth that there is a racist war by white officers against black civilians in this country. And we see the results,” she said. “President Obama last night only flamed these fires of hatred by putting out his usual lies that the criminal justice system is racist.”
In his remarks on Thursday Obama noted African-Americans were 30 percent more likely than whites to be pulled over and last year were shot by police at more than twice the rate of whites. He called for unity in addressing the disparities in the criminal justice system, saying it was something that should concern all Americans.
“This isn’t a matter of us comparing the value of lives. This is recognizing that there’s a particular burden that is being placed on a group of our fellow citizens and we should care about that,” he said. “To be concerned about these issues is not political correctness. It’s just being an American and wanting to live up to our best and highest ideals.”
Corey Stewart, who is the Virginia state chair for Donald Trump’s campaign, singled out Hillary Clinton as someone responsible for Thursday’s attacks. Hope Hicks, a Trump spokesperson, told the New York Times Stewart did not speak for the campaign and condemned the comments.
“Liberal politicians who label police as racists—specifically Hillary Clinton and Virginia Lt. Governor Ralph Northam—are to blame for essentially encouraging the murder of these police officers tonight,” Stewart wrote in a Facebook post that has since been deleted.
Mollie Reilly contributed reporting.