From what we understand so far, two or more snipers at a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas shot eleven police officers. Four of those officers have died, two of them are in surgery, and three are in critical condition.
According to a statement from Dallas Police Chief David Brown, an intensive search for suspects is currently underway with three suspects in custody and another being negotiated with in a violent standoff.
This horrendous event took place after the killings of two black men, Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old father of five who was shot by the police at point blank range outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile, who was shot in the presence of his girlfriend and 4-year-old daughter during a traffic stop in Minnesota. While details are still emerging about both cases, the video evidence is damning and points to another bout of execution style killings of black men by a trigger happy police force.
While we don't know exactly what happened in Dallas, the immediate facts point to the assault on police officers as an act of organized retribution. It goes without saying that everything should be done to capture those responsible for these appalling murders as quickly as possible and swiftly brought to justice. Regardless of the crimes committed by other police officers around the country, targeting random, innocent officers sent to protect peaceful protests is absolutely sickening.
Sadly however, the attacks on American police officers should come as no surprise. It is a product of decades, if not centuries of the vicious suppression of African Americans -- suppression that they feel every single day yet are almost powerless to stop. Day after day, week after week and year after year black men die at the hands of police officers. Some of this is now broadcast virtually live on our Facebook feeds, but the accumulation of this violence actually experienced by the African American community was bound to boil over in an equally violent manner, and today we saw its terrifying manifestation.
An attack on law enforcement officers was always going to happen -- it was just a matter of time. This is not an attempt to justify the assassination of four innocent police officers, but to put it into context. African Americans are policed with violence, and as any psychologist will tell you, violence begets more violence. The only thing truly surprising is that it didn't happen earlier -- a testament to the extraordinary ability of the African American community to peacefully and gracefully withstand appalling discrimination and abuse.
Unfortunately for them, the murdering psychopaths in Dallas have now set their cause back and they'll have to contend with every right wing lunatic coming out of the woodwork to condemn all black people, insist Barack Obama be held accountable for all crime committed by African Americans and insist every (white) American arm themselves to the teeth. (And yes, that's already happening).
Sadly in America this vicious cycle of violence is reinforced with the legality of deadly weaponry. The snipers responsible for murdering the Dallas police officers should never, EVER have had access to weapons designed for wars. And truth be told, the police should not either. While this might seem like wishful thinking, it is worth remembering that police officers in Britain do not carry guns, and contrary to the opinion of pro-gun fanatics, they are rarely killed in the line of duty.
If there had been no guns in this situation, no one would have died.
Yet the response to this appalling event is entirely predictable and we can expect more violence and more guns as a result of it -- a uniquely American response to, well, pretty much everything these days.
At some point, one hopes Americans can come together and agree that killing black men for selling CDs, wearing baggy pants or driving a car is barbaric and must stop. Once they do, Americans might be pleasantly surprised when cops who are paid to protect us can do so without shooting anyone or getting shot themselves.
And maybe, just maybe, they can stop giving everyone the means to do all this horrible, unnecessary killing.