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Texas Republicans blame Black Lives Matter for shooting of Dallas police

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, in 2013. (Mike Stone/Reuters)

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) and Rep. Roger Williams (R-Tex.), both hard-line conservatives, condemned critics of recent officer-involved shootings and suggested that they bore some responsibility for the shooting deaths of five Dallas police officers on Thursday.

"I do blame people on social media with their hatred towards police," Patrick said in an emotional Fox News interview. "I saw Jesse Jackson — I think it was on Fox, the other night, calling police 'racists' without any facts. I do blame former Black Lives Matter protests. Last night was peaceful, but others have not been. We've heard 'put the pigs in the blanket.'"

Killings and racial tensions commingle with divided and divisive politics

The "pigs in the blanket" quote was apparently a reference to one rally 11 months ago in Minnesota, where a group of protesters chanted "pigs in a blanket, fry 'em like bacon." The Jackson interview could have been one of several the civil rights leader gave in the wake of shootings this week; confronted by Fox's Megyn Kelly on Thursday night, before the Dallas shootings, he said that the police who shot black men in Minnesota and Louisiana this week had "unfounded" fears based on stereotypes about black men.

Williams, who represents a stretch of conservative Central Texas towns from Austin to Fort Worth, released a statement with fewer specific examples of anti-police backlash.

"The spread of misinformation and constant instigation by prominent leaders, including our president, have contributed to the modern day hostility we are witnessing between the police and those they serve," said Williams. "As a result, today we are seeing of the noblest professions condemned by those who could benefit the most."

Neither statement made reference to the motivations of the shooter, who according to Dallas's police department may have been anti-white and anti-cop.

Both statements stood out as even Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, steered clear of blaming protesters or the president for what happened in Dallas. That was a tone shift for Trump, who had previously derided Black Lives Matters activists for interrupting speeches, and had sought the endorsements of police unions by saying they were becoming increasingly disrespected.

On Fox — in an interview in which the host asked just one question — Patrick suggested that protesters had been "hypocrites" for seeking protection from police after protesting police shootings in other cities.

"All those protesters last night, they ran the other way expecting the men and women in blue to protect them," he said. "What hypocrites! I understand the First Amendment. I understand freedom of speech. But you can't go out on social media and everywhere else and say the police are racist, the police are hateful, the police are killers."