The Dallas Shooter and the Black Lives Matter Movement are completely different
It has been a long week in America. It has been a long year in America. We have had over 28,000 incidents of gun violence in this country in 2016, and over 500 people killed by the police. Two more names were added to that list in the past few days; Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
Sterling was selling CDs outside a convenience store, and Castile was in a car with his fiancee. Castile was shot in front of a four year old child. They did not resist arrest. They did not attack the officers. They did not draw weapons. They were murdered for no reason at all, like so many black people before them.
In response to the shootings, there were #BlackLivesMatter protests across America. Nearly all of them were peaceful. The one that turned violent saw five white police officers get shot and killed by a man named Micah Johnson, a 25 years old angry black man.
It is not shocking that Johnson acted rashly, according to the Guardian, at least 136 black people have been killed by the police in 2016. He acted alone. As far as we know, he is not a member of the Black Lives Matter movement, which does not and has never advocated violence against the innocent.
Micah Johnson’s actions were psychotic and unjustified. The officers in Dallas did not kill those men in Minnesota and Louisiana. They did not beat down black bodies. What is justified is the anger towards the American police force at large and their blatant racism. So much so that the Bahamas decided to issue a travel warning for its young male citizens entering the United States to avoid protests and comply with officers.
Unfortunately, compliance is not enough, as witnessed this past week, officers will beat or kill a black person who has done nothing at all. There are good American cops, but the American police system is deeply and dangerously flawed.
Cops are killing black people in cold blood, and they are doing it frequently and without adequate punishment. But the police are part of a larger story. There is currently a candidate for president who advocates expelling people from out nation’s soil on the basis of race and religion while our rate of gun violence has reached epic proportions. 13,286 people died from gun violence in the United States in 2015 alone. We are in an era when violence and xenophobia are dominating the national discourse, and the consequences are tragic.
We are in the midst of one of the greatest battles for civil justice in our time, and the loss of life has been staggering. It is important to focus on why #BlackLivesMatter exists; to fight for the rights of black people getting slaughtered at the hands of the police, not to advocate for the killing of other innocents.
No wise activist has ever attacked someone who has not hurt them. #BlackLivesMatter is no different. As they stated on their facebook page, “Black activists have raised the call for an end to violence, not an escalation of it. Yesterday’s attack (in Dallas) was the result of the actions of a lone gunman. To assign the actions of one person to an entire movement is dangerous and irresponsible. We continue our efforts to bring about a better world for all of us.”
Conservatives have already connected the actions of Micah Johnson to the powerful, peaceful movement that is #BlackLivesMatter and written them off, saying that they are violent and racist themselves. We need to spend our energy on supporting the fight for justice, not attacking the oppressed.
We need to change the justice system so that murderous, despicable human beings – even the ones who carry a badge – are punished for killing innocent people. We need accountability for the American police force’s actions, and we need solidarity between citizens. We need an end to racist, xenophobic politicians and we need common sense gun control. That should be our focus, not scapegoating #BlackLivesMatter or any other activist group.
Let’s start with what I saw in the pictures from Dallas: a racially diverse force, headed by a Black career peace officer; officers protecting protesters not knowing who the shooter was or his motives. What we saw of the Minnesota case was bad training; what we saw in New Orleans was just bad.
Solutions: Recognize that the police are the tip of the spear. Its the rest of the weapon of the criminal justice system that needs to be fixed as well.
There’s not much doubt that as the police forces become more like military personal (with less involved training) they have become emboldened and the racist ones especially seem to be “coming out” so to speak.
The president tried to change that and take back some of this weaponry.
Not sure that that has happened or if it was just words. It would be nice to see if that information is available and see just how much of this unnecessary military equipment has been recovered.
As it is the number of police officers killed by a felonious act (assault and gunshot) has varied but in general has gone down over the last two decades.
Traffic accident deaths are still the #1 way that officers die while on duty but violent offenders get the press because it’s more sensational and “news worthy”.
Here is an article that sheds some (mostly) accurate statistics on this important subject.