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After Dallas shootings, Heastie, officials call for unity

New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on

New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on Feb. 3, 2015. Photo Credit: Albany Times Union / Skip Dickstein

ALBANY

New York State’s highest ranking African-American political leader said in the aftermath of a horrific span of shootings that left black men and white police officers dead that “vengeance is never a substitute for progress.”

“There simply is no justification for the senseless shootings of law enforcement officers in Dallas,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) said Friday. “The events of the last few days are tragic and unconscionable on all fronts, but in our grief and sadness we must recognize that there is no place for those who would inflict new wounds -- wounds that will never be a cure for suffering.”

Heastie said the long string of deaths of black men in shootings by police underscore the need for improving community and police relations, combating poverty and improving education and working “on the issue of guns and those who would use them to steal innocent lives.”

“We can and will overcome these terrible circumstances, but only when we take anger and hate out of the equation and focus our energy on the future we want for our children,” said the father of a school-age daughter.

In Dallas on Thursday night, five police officers were killed and seven were wounded by an African-American Army Reserve veteran who police said indicated he wanted to kill white police in retaliation for the killings of black men in police confrontations. The officers had been assigned to a peaceful demonstration that protested the fatal shootings of black men earlier this week by police in Minnesota and Louisiana.

At a media event in Utica, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo called the week “an ugly period in our nation” and that it seems “America’s demons are challenging our better angels.” Cuomo, a former prosecutor, said the shooting of police in Dallas was a “sick and mad act.”

“We are one people, we are one nation, we are one state and we celebrate the differences and we celebrate our diversity,” Cuomo said. He then led a prayer that “the worst is behind us.”

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who investigates shootings by police, said Americans “cannot, and must not, tolerate coldblooded shootings of any kind, whether it’s against innocent civilians, or the men and women in uniform who courageously defend our right as Americans to peacefully protest.

“I encourage all Americans to turn these tragedies into calls for peace, not hate, and to use their voice to change the unacceptable and deeply dangerous status quo,” Schneiderman said Friday.

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