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Pa. state flags lowered to half-staff to honor fallen Dallas officers

Written by Staff Report/ WITF and The Associated Press | Jul 8, 2016 12:37 PM
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Police tape marks off the area where a shooting took place in downtown Dallas, Friday, July 8, 2016. Snipers opened fire on police officers in the heart of Dallas during protests over two recent fatal police shootings of black men. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

(Harrisburg) -- Governor Tom Wolf has ordered all Commonwealth flags to fly half-staff, after five police officers were fatally shot during what began as a peaceful protest in Dallas. 

The Democratic governor said flags lowered at the Capitol Complex in Harrisburg and at commonwealth facilities across the state will honor the officers killed Thursday in the line of duty. 

He ordered the flags to remain lowered until each officer is buried.

Wolf released a statement today condemning the recent ``horrific acts of violence.'' 

"I'm greatly saddened by the horrific acts of violence that have taken place over the past several days. "We have to ask ourselves, is this the type of country we want? I believe the answer is no. We must treat each other with compassion and understanding. We must seek to understand each other, our similarities and our differences. And we must never, ever let violence beget violence. When incidents like those in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Dallas happen, it raises concerns and questions, and we must demand change and action. It is unacceptable for people to live in fear because of the color of their skin. There is no justification.

Law enforcement has a trying and dangerous job to do, and they keep us safe. As officers were bringing out the best in ourselves by protecting protesters and preserving their right to assemble, they were attacked. There is no justification for that either. All of us must take steps - community leaders, elected officials, public safety professionals, each and every person - to build the country we want so that all people feel safe in their interactions with their fellow citizens. We all must denounce violence unequivocally and embrace peace. We must ensure that justice is served to those who commit attacks and gruesome crimes against fellow citizens and law enforcement. We must demand better of our country and our fellow Americans."

Across the commonwealth, officials on the local, state and federal levels offered their condolences on the shootings in Dallas.

Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Senator Pat Toomey:

"The massacre in Dallas reminds us of the heroism and bravery of our men and women in uniform who put their lives on the line every day to protect us from criminals and terrorists, and the debt of gratitude we owe them.  "This morning, the Dallas police spokesman said that at least one of the attackers was motivated by recent police shootings. Such incidents - including the shocking and disturbing videos from Minnesota and Louisiana - must be investigated thoroughly, and if any official is found to have violated the law, he should be severely punished."

"But none of that should be confused with what happened in Dallas last night. This disgusting attack has no possible justification. The overwhelming majority of police officers are honest, hardworking Americans who should not be scapegoated for the actions of a very small number within their ranks. Dallas must serve as a wake-up call to Americans that we should all stand together in support of the law enforcement family, a family that knows no boundaries of race, religion, or sex."

Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray:

"The on-going violence and loss of life that our Country has witnessed over the recent past, including the massacre of peace officers in Dallas, serves as a chilling reminder that we have a long way to go in achieving 'a more perfect union'.  Violence that stems from stereotypes based on race or profession diminishes our own humanity and is a threat to the unity and peace to which we aspire.  All whose lives are ended by violence have parents, spouses, and children who suffer profound and long-lasting grief and loss. 

 We condemn violence and the hatred that begets violence.  These are times that call for somber reflection.   Towards this end, I ask that our faith community dedicate weekend worship services to prayer and reflection; and for those who do not worship formally to, in their own way, meditate on how each of us can act in peace, with respect, and with kindness towards our fellow human beings."  

Midstate Republican Congressman Charlie Dent (who represents portions of Berks, Dauphin and Lebanon counties):

"My deepest sympathies and prayers go out to the families and friends of the 5 Police officers murdered, 7 officers injured, and at least 2 other bystanders also injured last night the horrific ambush attack in Dallas, Texas.  The men and women of the Dallas Police Department were doing their jobs last evening. Promoting and keeping the peace with professionalism and grace - some were even engaging with protestors and engaging in positive discussions with community members."

 "When individuals single out law enforcement officers for attack, we must realize that they are not just attacking men and women in uniform, they are attacking the rule of law that provides the foundational element of our society. Those who committed these murders were viciously promoting chaos over order and terror over the rule of law. God bless the men and women of the Dallas Police Department and law enforcement personnel across the United States. Every day they put on a uniform that makes them a target and they do so to provide the safety and security that allows your family and mine to conduct our everyday lives."

In Pittsburgh, police say they're using uniformed and plainclothes officers and "extreme caution'' to safeguard police and the public at an activists march today.

The city's Public Safety Department is working with the FBI and other law enforcement in the wake of sniper shootings that killed five police officers and wounded seven others at a protest march in Dallas last night.

The march opening the People's Convention at the city's convention center is billed as protesting "growing inequality and a toxic atmosphere of hate.''

Organizers expect 1,500 activists to march through downtown protesting what they believe are various social ills. 

Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik also planned a noon Mass to pray for "peace and reconciliation.''

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