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Obama Takes Questions On Dallas Attack, Race Relations

Susan Walsh / AP / File

Susan Walsh / AP / File

UPDATE 11:36 a.m. -- President Barack Obama took questions on the recent shootings in Dallas and issues of police violence at a press conference in Warsaw today as he wrapped up his visit for a NATO summit.

Obama praised the professionalism of the Dallas police force during the attack, and emphasized that the shootings shouldn’t be seen as representing a wider political statement.

“We cannot let the actions of a few define all of us,” he said. “The demented individual who carried out those attacks in Dallas - he’s no more representative of African-Americans than the shooter in Charleston was representative of white Americans, or the shooter in Orlando or San Bernardino were representative of Muslim Americans.”

The president also sought to quell notions that divisions in the US are worsening. “When we start suggesting that somehow there’s this enormous polarization and we’re back to the situation in the 60s, that’s just not true. You’re not seeing riots and you’re not seeing police going after people who are protesting peacefully.”

Obama also said that photo and video evidence of racial bias and police violence have increased awareness of those problems, but suggested that bringing greater attention to an issue that has long existed carries the promise of change.

The president used the opportunity to point at gun violence in the US as a problem extending beyond mass shootings. “We are unique among advanced countries in the scale of violence that we experience," he said. "And I’m not just talking about mass shootings. I’m talking about the hundreds of people who have already been shot this year in my home town of Chicago. The ones that we just consider routine.”

UPDATE 9:10 a.m. (AP) — President Barack Obama will talk about his response to the Dallas shootings, race relations in the U.S. and alliances in Europe as he wraps up his visit to Warsaw for a NATO summit.

Obama is slated to take questions from reporters on Saturday before leaving the meeting of European leaders.

Obama spoke about the deadly shooting of police officers early Friday. He said the shooting was "vicious, calculated and despicable." He called on Americans to focus on honoring the victims, rather than political debates.

He has since been criticized for using the shooting to repeat his call for gun control.

The attack has prompted Obama to return to the U.S. a day earlier than planned. From Warsaw, he'll head to Madrid before returning to Washington Sunday evening.

Original Post: (AP) — The White House says President Barack Obama will cut short his European trip and visit Dallas early next week, as the city mourns five police officers killed by a sniper.

Obama had been scheduled to return to Washington on Monday. Instead, he will leave Spain on Sunday night after a meeting with that country's interim prime minister and a visit with U.S. military personnel.

Obama is currently in Warsaw, Poland, for a NATO summit.

The White House says Obama will focus next week on efforts to support police officers while addressing "persistent racial disparities" in the criminal justice system.

Obama on Friday tried to channel Americans' horror and outrage over the targeted shootings of police officers, decrying the fatal attack in Dallas as "despicable" and declaring there was no justification for the violence.

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