Clinton steps up call for criminal justice reform after Dallas attack

Hillary Clinton speaks at an event in Indianapolis, Indiana. She vowed on Friday to take steps as president to implement criminal justice reform in the wake of the attack in Dallas and other shootings this week. Photo by Chris Bergin/Reuters

Hillary Clinton on Friday condemned the deadly attack in Dallas that killed five police officers, while urging the public to engage in a deeper dialogue about race and gun violence, and vowing to tackle the issues if she is elected president.

"We have to do much more to make sure that citizens in our country, particularly African-Americans, feel respected and protected by the police," Clinton said in an interview with PBS NewsHour's Judy Woodruff.


Watch Judy Woodruff's full interview with Hillary Clinton.

At the same time, elected officials, community leaders and others must also "listen to the fears of our police officers" who put themselves in harm's way, Clinton said.

Clinton's comments came less than 12 hours after police killed the suspected shooter in the Dallas attack after a tense standoff early Friday morning.

The suspect has been identified as Micah Xavier Johnson, a 25-year-old Army veteran with no prior criminal history or ties to terrorism. Five police officers were killed and seven others wounded in the attack. Two civilians were wounded as well when the suspect began firing at police officers during a peaceful demonstration over the police killing of two black men earlier this week.

Clinton praised President Obama for pushing for criminal justice reform, but said that as president she would take further steps to reform policing tactics across the country.

The Democratic presidential nominee said she would institute new national guidelines on the use of lethal force, and task police departments with developing new strategies to de-escalate tense situations before they turn violent.

Clinton also said she would lead an effort to improve race relations by addressing the "implicit bias that unfortunately too many of us still have," adding, "all of us as Americans have a stake in trying to listen respectfully to each other."

Clinton's comments followed her initial response to the attack, which was posted on Twitter early Friday morning. Trump also took to Twitter to express his support for the victims of the attack in Dallas, then issued a formal statement two hours later.

"Our nation has become too divided," Trump said in the statement. "Racial tensions have gotten worse, not better. This isn't the American Dream we all want for our children."

READ MORE: In response to Dallas attack, Trump shows rare restraint

The real estate mogul and Republican presidential nominee added that it was "time, perhaps more than ever, for strong leadership, love and compassion."

The response was an unusually measured one from Trump, who has stirred controversy with his reaction to other shootings in the United States and crises abroad.

Days after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, last December, Trump called for a ban on Muslim immigrants to the U.S. Last month, after Britain voted to leave the European Union, Trump said that the move would be good for his newly opened golf course in Scotland.

Comments like those have drawn immense criticism from the left and the right. But Trump's response to the Dallas attack signaled a willingness — in this instance, at least — to adjust his tone, after two months of bad press that have led to a steep decline in his poll numbers against Clinton.

In addition to her interview with PBS NewsHour and other news outlets, Clinton is slated to address the Dallas attack and the other gun violence this week in a speech in Philadelphia on Friday evening.

Ahead of the speech, Clinton supporters said they expected her use the moment to draw a sharp contrast with Trump, and lay out policies aimed at curbing gun violence.

But others expressed doubts that Congress would pass meaningful gun control or criminal justice reforms in the near future, regardless of who wins the election in November.

Even in the aftermath of the attack in Dallas, there is little appetite for gun control legislation in Texas, said Bill Miller, a longtime political powerbroker in the state.

"It's God and guns in Texas," Miller said. "And guns are making a hard run at God."

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