The Day After Dallas, #BlackLivesMatter More Than Ever
This picture was tweeted from the Dallas PD's twitter account, just before the shooting started.
#BlackLivesMatter Is Not Anti-Cop
A peaceful protest in downtown Dallas over the killings of two black men by police in Louisiana and Minnesota turned tragic last night when 12 officers were shot by snipers. According to Dallas Police Chief David Brown the officers were targeted from "elevated positions," the shooters "positioning themselves in a way to triangulate themselves from two different perches."
As The Dallas Morning News reports five of those 12 cops are dead, with the remaining seven wounded. Four suspects have been associating with the shooting, with three of them in custody and the fourth one slain in a standoff. During a press conference this morning Brown stated that the fourth suspect, identified as Micah X. Johnson, told officers and negotiators during the standoff that he was upset with the recent killings of black people by police.
"The suspect said he was upset about Black Lives Matter. He was upset about the recent shootings," Brown said. "The suspect said he was upset at white people. The suspect stated he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers."
The hourlong standoff eventually came to an end, when Johnson was killed by a "robotic bomb."
In a press conference Friday morning from NATO conference in Poland, President Obama described the ambush as a "vicious, calculated, and despicable attack on law enforcement."
"Police in Dallas were on duty, doing their jobs, keeping people safe during peaceful protests," Obama said.
Tensions between U.S. citizens and police have hit a notable high this week with the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. That, along with previous incidents of police brutality that are still fresh in people's minds (Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice and many others), has led to officers being targeted in apparent retaliation.
This act is not justifiable. What has happened in Dallas is emblematic of the fear and frustration most people have towards law enforcement. Through the power of technology we're now able to document these moments and hopefully hold officers accountable for their actions. Where people before may have been skeptical of the injustices minorities face from cops, now it's there for them to see — some even in real time.
But this isn't solution. It's accepting and recognizing that our nation has a problem with implicit bias within our police departments; it's making sure that the people sworn into these positions are prepared to handle situations without first resorting to their firearm; and it's trying to create a better justice system that makes people feel safe and not a threat because the color of their skin.
In the irony of people tweeting #bluelivesmatter they fail to recognize what we are doing when we write #blacklivesmatter: to highlight a disparity. We can simultaneously acknowledge and appreciate the work of our officers that risk their lives for us, while critiquing them to do better and holding them to a higher standard. For example, during the Dallas shooting a protester by the name of Mark Hughes was wrongfully identified as a shooting suspect, with his face sent across social media and mainstream news outlets through the Dallas Police Department's Twitter account.
Hughes, who was carrying an unloaded weapon to the protest to exercise his right to bear arms, ultimately gave his gun to an officer at the request of his brother Cory. "...I understood the severity of the situation," Cory said in an interview with KTVT. "I told my brother, 'Give that gun away.'" Hughes even turned himself in and upon being released, and stated that police never apologized, and his picture is still on their Twitter timeline. This type of negligence is why #blacklivesmatter exists. We don't want revenge; we want accountability.
There are people that actually believe the Black Lives Matter movement is associated with the Dallas shooting. Not only was the protest not an official Black Lives Matter event but even if it was, the logic would not stand up. By generalizing these events people are failing to acknowledge and discuss the inequalities our criminal justice system is built upon, and until that happens we are simply adding more and more anger, fear and mistrust on top of this systemic problem — and at the rate things are we won't even have to wait for the next 24 hour news cycle to be floored by the next tragedy — and the next.
The main takeaway here, which needs to be recognized by people on all sides of the issue is this: the problem is not going anywhere. The spread of the locations mentioned in this article — Minnesota, Texas, Louisiana, as well as California, Maryland and New York — underscores the system-wide nature of the problem. There are approximately 75 million black people in the U.S. and neither they nor the millions of other Americans who stand with #BlackLivesMatter will accept this systematic injustice — or accept the violent actions of a few men with guns to be their only voice.