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What Trump and Clinton say the Dallas shootings mean for policing

Racially charged violence and debates over policing were on the candidates' minds. Clinton spoke of empathy and bias training for police officers, while Trump trumpeted public safety.

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Demonstrators stand outside of the White House protesting police brutality on July 8 in Washington.

Sarah Grace Taylor/AP

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Both presumptive presidential candidates scrapped plans for campaign events on Friday after five Dallas police officers were shot to death by a sniper during a protest against police brutality.

Donald Trump cancelled a rally planned in Miami, while Hillary Clinton did the same for a fundraiser with Vice President Joe Biden in Scranton, Penn., though she did keep her engagement in Philadelphia for Friday afternoon at the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) national convention.

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The two candidates’ public reflections seemed to underscore crucial differences between them, with Mr. Trump emphasizing the need to “restore law and order” and Mrs. Clinton pledging to reconcile differences between police departments and communities of color.

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In an interview with CNN, Mrs. Clinton called the Dallas shootings an "absolutely horrific event" that should "worry every single American," while framing it as a "call to action" for new national guidelines for policing.

Speaking before a largely African-American audience in Philadelphia, she cited “clear evidence that African-Americans are much more likely to be killed in police incidents than any other groups of Americans” and promised $1 billion for “implicit bias” training programs if she were elected president.

The term refers to the notion that many people unconsciously hold reflexive prejudices that influence the type of exchanges police officers handle every day. Similar programs are already in place in a number of police and sheriff’s departments in California.

On Friday evening, Donald Trump said the Dallas shootings had "shaken the soul of our nation" and called for the restoration of "the confidence of our people to be safe and secure in their homes and on the street.” 

“We must stand in solidarity with law enforcement, which we must remember is the force between civilization and total chaos,” he said. Mr. Trump went on to lament the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police in Louisiana and Minnesota, respectively, saying they “make clear how much more work we have to do to make every American feel that their safety is protected.”

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"Too many Americans are living in terrible poverty and violence. We need jobs, and we are going to produce those jobs. Racial divisions have gotten worse, not better,” he said. 

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Earlier this week, Mrs. Clinton had mourned the tragedy of Mr. Sterling's and Mr. Castile's deaths and praised the opening of a Department of Justice investigation into possible negligence. On Friday, she sought to align herself with some of the protestors, urging greater empathy from white Americans on the question of police brutality against African-Americans.

"White Americans need to do a better job of listening when African-Americans talk about the seen and unseen barriers you face every day," Mrs. Clinton said. "We need to try, as best we can, to walk in one another's shoes, to imagine what it would be like if people followed us around stores or locked their car doors when we walked past.”