Dallas Police Chief David Brown gave what many are calling a moving and historic speech at the Dallas police memorial for five fallen police officers. Brown’s words – which included a powerful recitation of Stevie Wonder lyrics – moved the audience, including a president and former president, to its feet.
“Calm at the center of crisis,” The New York Times has said of Brown. On social media, the praise for the speech flooded in, with one woman comparing Brown to a modern Martin Luther King Jr. and others praising his eloquence, steady hand, and unifying persona in a divided America.
Watch Brown speak at the memorial here:
Indeed, Brown’s speech at the memorial – as well as his other turns at the podium as the tragedy unfolded – have led some to call for Brown to run for president. Whimsical or not, there’s even a hashtag on Twitter getting more traction after the speech: #DavidBrownForPresident. It speaks, perhaps, to people’s longing for a healing figure to bridge the country’s divides.
Since a gunman targeted his officers and those of the transit police, Brown’s national profile has risen, with many praising his resolute and dignified handling of the crisis (read more about Brown here.) One line is getting a lot of attention from his memorial speech, which was under six minutes long: “There’s no greater love than this: that these five men gave their lives for all of us.”
Watch Brown receive a standing ovation at the memorial:
When Brown speaks about police and officer-related shootings, his thoughts come from a powerfully personal place. Brown’s son, also David, “killed a police officer six years ago before being fatally shot himself,” said USA Today. Brown’s son died in a shootout with police in suburban Dallas while “reportedly on drugs,” said USA Today. Brown, a 30-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, also “lost a brother and a partner to violence,” said the newspaper. And now he’s lost four from his force in one day, as well as a fellow officer with the Dallas Area Rapid Transit system. Other words from the chief have also been particularly memorable to many as his department and city dealt with unprecedented tragedy:
At the memorial, despite being surrounded by a current and former president (Barack Obama and George W. Bush), many were praising the words of the Dallas police chief whose name wasn’t known to most Americans just a few days ago, until a disgruntled Army veteran decided to take out his anger on Dallas police. There aren’t many public figures who could pull off quoting Stevie Wonder at a memorial service:
After asking the families and audience to imagine him in the 1970s with an Afro and bell bottoms, he said: “We all know sometimes life’s hate and troubles can make you wish you were born in another time and place. But you can bet your life times that, and twice its double, that God knew exactly where he wanted you to be placed. So make sure when you say you’re not in it, but not of it, you’re not helping to make this Earth a place sometimes called hell. Change your words into truth and then change that truth into love.” (Read the song’s lyrics here.)
The memorial, held at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, was attended by thousands, said The Dallas Morning News.
Social media commentators heaped praise on Brown:
President Barack Obama also gave an eloquent speech at the memorial for the fallen officers, Patrick Zamarripa, Brent Thompson, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith, and Lorne Ahrens. Thompson was an officer with DART, the Dallas Area Rapid Transit system. The other officers were with the Dallas Police Department.
Some see Brown, who is African-American, as a bridging figure, between the African-American community and policing profession. However, he told The New York Times: “I’ve been black a long time, so it’s not much of a bridge for me.”