Texas lieutenant governor confronts Obama over support for law enforcement
Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick confronted President Obama about his support for law enforcement during a town hall event on race that aired on ABC Thursday night.
"I'm concerned that police officers across the country, they know you support law enforcement of course, but do they really in their heart feel like you're doing everything you can to protect their lives?" Patrick questioned. "Yesterday you had meetings at the White House and afterwards you said that the tension between the police and between black America is only gonna get worse."
RELATED: Dallas shooting victims, memorials and aftermath
Patrick suggested that Obama needs to consider being careful with the words he choose and "not being too quick to condemn the police without due process and until the facts are known."
He also requested that the president put on the blue lights at the White House.
Obama used the tense moment to pledge his support to law enforcement and call for Americans to come together.
"I have been unequivocal in condemning any rhetoric directed at police officers," Obama responded firmly. "So I think, lieutenant governor, you'd have to find ... any message that did not include a very strong support for law enforcement in all my utterances dating back to Ferguson because I rely on law enforcement to protect me and my family, just like everybody else does."
The president then offered to send all his remarks to Patrick.
"Mr. President, I know you have, but I want them to know it in their hearts," Patrick said.
"I have also insisted throughout all these processes that law enforcement is deserving of due process just like everybody else," Obama continued. "No matter how powerful videos may be or what's been said, everybody deserves to be treated fairly by the justice system.""
The president acknowledged he knows his "words matter deeply here."
The lieutenant governor issued a statement afterwards, noting that the ABC broadcast of the event was highly edited. The statement, in full, is below:
WASHINGTON, DC – Lt. Governor Dan Patrick called on President Barack Obama today to take strong steps to demonstrate his support for police in light of the violence of recent days. Speaking in Washington, D.C., at a national town hall on police violence entitled "The President and the People: A National Conversation" hosted by ABC News Thursday, Patrick told the president he should condemn all protestors who use violent rhetoric against law enforcement. He also urged the president to avoid passing judgment in police shootings before all the facts are in.
The program was recorded earlier in the afternoon and a highly edited version aired during prime time.
Patrick was invited to participate in the national town hall, which was organized earlier this week by ABC News, in response to the police murders in Dallas and other police-related shootings around the country.
The audience included police and protesters, and people from communities that have recently experienced violence and unrest.
Patrick drew a smile from the president and the audience when he began by noting that they have something in common: "As Lt. Governor of Texas, like you, Mr. President – some people in my state really like me and some people really don't."
Patrick said the thousands of police officers in Texas know they have his support, but he told Obama that he was not sure officers always feel the same about the president.
Patrick closed with a request that the president order the White House lit with blue lights as a show of support for law enforcement — a move police organizations have asked him to make. President Obama did not respond to Patrick's request.
The national town hall was broadcast, without commercials on ABC News, ESPN and Disney Channel as well as several digital platforms.