Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck. Photo by John Schreiber.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck wears mourning band on shield in earlier, unrelated incident. Photo by John Schreiber.

Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck, in somber “beyond sad” remarks Friday to a graduating class of new officers, pointed to a mourning band on his shield that honors the memory of the five Dallas police officers killed in a shooting in that city.

“To think that members of a fine police department such as Dallas P.D. were targeted because of the uniform they wear, because of the job they do, because of the love they have for American freedom is beyond belief; it is beyond sad,” Beck said at a ceremony in front of police headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.

“Ten thousand Los Angeles police officers — including you — put on mourning bands today,” Beck said. “But these mourning bands are a symbol that cannot express the pain in our hearts.

“And the pain is not just about personal loss; it’s not just about the loss of another law enforcement officer; it’s not just about the attack on American institutions,” Beck said. “It’s much more than that. It is a symbol of a breakdown, of a schism that has occurred within our society, where we have done what societies do when they are in trouble: we have separated, we have broken into tribes.”

Beck called for the country to have a dialogue that does not break down along racial lines.

“We must move beyond that,” Beck said. “This not about black lives; not about brown lives; not about blue lives. This is about America.”

At the same gathering, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said, “The officers who died in Dallas didn’t just die as heroes — they lived as heroes.”

As the ceremony was taking place, a group of protesters gathered on a nearby sidewalk, with rapper Snoop Dogg among them, but they did not attempt to disrupt the proceedings.

In a tweet earlier Friday Beck called the killings a “tragedy beyond belief.”

“Blue lives matter, they are willingly given and senselessly taken,” Beck wrote on Twitter.

Messages of sympathy and condolences also were tweeted by police departments in Anaheim, Newport Beach, Santa Ana, and Long Beach, the California Highway Patrol and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

“LA County Sheriff sends compassion and prayers to those families who lost loved ones today,” a department tweet said.

On Thursday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted, “Our hearts are with all of the victims and their families in Dallas. The horrific violence against @DallasPD is an attack on our democracy. All Americans must unite against hate, join together in peace+justice.”

California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris said in a statement that “the horrific tragedy in Dallas is a grave reminder of the dangers our law enforcement officers face each day in service of their communities.”

“I pray for the officers who lost their lives, for their grieving families and our law enforcement brothers and sisters in Dallas,” said Harris, who is scheduled to address the first meeting of the Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board today in downtown Los Angeles.

“Last night’s unspeakable violence reminds me of these words from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.’

“Violence only increases distrust and anger. I know firsthand that the relationship of trust between law enforcement and the communities we are sworn to serve is reciprocal. We honor the courage and sacrifice of law enforcement as we continue the important national dialogue around reforming our criminal justice system.”

Najee Ali, director of Project Islamic Hope, said Thursday he was “praying for the families of the law enforcement victims who were killed in Dallas.”

“We don’t support or condone any violence against anyone,” Ali said. “That’s not the way of the civil rights movement.”

Ali had helped organize a rally earlier Thursday calling for justice for the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile who were killed in officer-involved shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota.

Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable President Earl Ofari Hutchinson said the Dallas shootings will only widen the division between law enforcement and minority communities.

“We stand for peace and justice in our communities, fair, equitable and constitutional policing and stern measures to curb police misconduct,” Hutchinson said. “But violence in any form against police officers simply deepens the fear, tensions and polarizations between police and minority communities. We are all the losers.”

San Pedro Congresswoman Janice Hahn called the Dallas massacre “a grim reminder of their bravery and the sacrifices our law enforcement officers make every day.

“My heart is broken for the victims’ families,” Hahn said. “As every family member of a police officer will tell you, every day they live with the fear that their husband or wife, son or daughter, may not come home.”

The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents the LAPD rank-and-file, issued a statement this morning that said in part:

“Our prayers and deepest sympathies go to the families and friends of the Dallas Police officers and Dallas Area Rapid Transit officers who were killed and injured in last night’s abhorrent acts of violence.”

“We also pray for the recovery of those officers who are severely injured so that no more families have to feel the pain and anguish of losing their loved one,” the protective league said in a statement. “To hunt, target and murder law enforcement officers who were working to protect the safety and the first amendment rights of protesters is pure evil.”

The Los Angeles Times, meanwhile, reported the slayings through a device now rarely seen — an extra front page for its print edition.

— City News Service

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