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Trump takes aim at Black Lives Matter, slams ‘hostility and violence’ against police

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President Trump took aim at the Black Lives Matter movement and former President Obama Monday, saying ambush-style killings of police last year during tensions in minority communities were “a stain on the very fabric of our society” and that too many Americans “obstruct” law enforcement.

“We are living through an era in which our police are subjected to unfair vilification and defamation — even worse, hostility and violence,” Mr. Trump said at a memorial ceremony at the Capitol for fallen officers. “More officers were slain last year in ambushes than in any year in more than two decades.”

Of fallen officers, Mr. Trump said, “We owe it to their memory to put truth before politics, justice before agendas, and to put the safety and security of the American people above everything else.”

 While the president didn’t mention Black Lives Matter by name, Mr. Trump said, “The attacks on our police must end, and they must end right now.” He specifically addressed ambushes of police last year in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and in Dallas.

President Donald Trump speaks at the 36th Annual National Peace Officers' memorial service, Monday, May 15. 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

 MPresident Donald Trump speaks at the 36th Annual National Peace Officers’ memorial service, Monday, May 15. 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) more >

Some law enforcement officials were critical of President Barack Obama during the height of police-minority tensions, accusing him of emboldening the BLM movement and putting more cops at risk. Mr. Obama convened a task force on police practices in an effort to build better relations between police departments and minority communities.

Mr. Trump seemed to refer to Mr. Obama Monday when he told police officials, “I want you to know that patriotic Americans of all backgrounds truly support and love our police. A very sad thing is that many of today’s politicians don’t want to say that, don’t want to talk about that because it’s not politically correct or they think it might hurt them with the voters. I will say it and I will talk about it proudly.”

He also told the gathering, “You are entitled to leadership at the highest level that will draw a bright line in the sand, not a red line in the sand that isn’t gone over, but a bright line in the sand. And we will protect you, that I can tell you, and we will say ‘Enough is enough.’ “

Mr. Obama had infamously failed to enforce his own “red line in the sand” against Syria after that government’s military launched a chemical-weapons attack in 2013.

The president also called for Americans to “end the reckless words of incitement that give rise to danger and give rise to violence” against police.

He said too many Americans “obstruct” the work of law enforcement.

“It is time to work with our cops, not against them, but to support them in making our streets safe, not to obstruct, which we’re doing,” Mr. Trump said. “True social justice means a future where every child in every neighborhood can play outside without fear, can walk home safely from school, and can live out the beautiful dreams that fill their hearts.”

Mr. Trump told officers at the Peace Officers’ Memorial ceremony, “You are the thin blue line between civilization and chaos. You rush into unknown danger, risking your lives for people you have never met. And often without any thanks at all.”

President Chuck Canterbury of the National Fraternal Order of Police praised Mr. Trump.

“In his short time in office, he has let America know that our law enforcement officers are important, and that their lives matter,” he said.

Total law enforcement officer fatalities through Sunday were up 39 percent over the same period last year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Firearms-related fatalities actually dropped slightly during that period, from 18 last year to 16 so far this year.

According to the NLEOMF, law enforcement fatalities nationwide rose to their highest level in five years in 2016, with 135 officers killed in the line of duty. That was a 10 percent increase over 2015, and the highest total since 2011, when 177 officers were killed.

Firearms-related incidents accounted for the most police deaths in 2016, with 64 officers shot and killed nationwide, a 56-percent increase from 2015. Of the 64 shooting deaths of officers last year, 21 were the result of ambush-style attacks — the highest total in more than two decades.