President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush on Tuesday will speak at an interfaith memorial service in Dallas for five police officers slain late last week, as well as meet with the victims’ families.
The President will visit the Texas city at the request of Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement Sunday afternoon. On Sunday evening the White House announced that Bush would join his successor at the memorial service in Texas.
Vice President Joe Biden will also attend the service at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, as will former first lady Laura Bush.
Obama and Bush are expected to meet with families of the fallen officers. The President is cutting short a European trip to travel to Dallas, but he has spoken out on the shootings several times while abroad. While in Spain Sunday, the President condemned citizens who attack police officers, saying they are performing a “disservice to the cause” of criminal justice reform.
While the joint appearance between Bush and Obama is unusual, such occasions do have precedent. The two men appeared together at Ground Zero on September 2011 for the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and also in Tanzania in 2013 to lay a wreath at the memorial for the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombing in Dar es Salaam.
CNN Special Correspondent Jamie Gangel has learned that while the invitation came officially from Dallas Mayor Rawlings, the White House was pleased to have Bush there and then asked the former President to join in visiting the victim’s families which Bush was honored to take part in.
Obama made the remarks following a bilateral meeting with Spanish Interim Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
“Whenever those of us who are concerned about fairness in the criminal justice system attack police officers, you are doing a disservice to the cause,” Obama said at the Moncola Palace in Madrid.
Obama said that police and activists need to work together and “listen to each other” in order to mobilize real change in America.
The President added that in movements such as Black Lives Matter, there will always be people who make “stupid” or “over generalized” statements, but that a truthful and peaceful tone must be created on both sides for progress.
“I wish I was staying longer,” Obama said earlier Sunday prior to a meeting with King Felipe VI. ” I’m so grateful for the understanding not only of his majesty but the people of Spain. We’ve had a difficult week back in the United States so my trip is a little abbreviated.”