Phil Johnson, Ph,.D.
July 10, 2016
*The following includes the original article – as events were happening. This includes both the original as well as current updates and perspectives in race relations in the U.S.
Within one day of each other, there were two police shootings of two back men – and of course two videos showing at least one perspective of the events. (In one case, the girlfriend live-streamed her boyfriend dying on Facebook – I can’t even begin to wrap my head around that…) The events took place in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and in St. Paul, Minnesota. Emotions are running high – and rightly so. As I don’t know all the details of those circumstances, I won’t comment on them – and I will let the justice system do their job.
But what I do know is that in American, we have the right for peaceful assembly and the right to robustly express our thoughts, concerns and frustrations regarding our nation. Two days ago, a protest – regarding concerns of police violence – was planned for Dallas, Texas. From the accounts of witnesses, it was going well, it was peaceful – until it wasn’t.
As most of the world knows now, what started as a peaceful rally, things turned bad – really bad. Two (at least) snipers from strategic vantage points planned and targeted shooting police officers. Here’s what we know:
- We know that this attack appears to have been planned and coordinated – not a last minute escalation of tempers. (Which is unusual since this event was only announced/planned 2 days ago).
- We know that eleven police offers and one civilian were shot in downtown Dallas. Five officers have been killed (four Dallas police officers and one Dallas transit officer.) Others are wounded, some in critical condition.
- Some suspects have been taken into custody. Negotiations with one suspect and an “uncooperative shootout” is still currently underway (In the El Centro Garage in downtown Dallas). This individual is communicating that the “end is coming” and that there are bombs placed all over Dallas and that his goals is to take out as many people – especially police – as possible. (According to Dallas Police Chief David O Brown). It sounds as if there were more people involved than just the man who is already in custody and the man currently in the standoff in the garage. There are some other people of interest (possibly four) – and the Chief of police still doesn’t have complete confidence that they have all suspects captured. I am sure we will hear more about this by the morning.
Everyone knows that there is growing social unrest concerning black men being killed by some policemen. (And please note – the majority of police officers are noble men and women who sacrifice and put themselves at risk to protect the public.)
But tonight, the Dallas police officers had been out all night protecting the protesters, protecting their rights to express themselves and to express their anger and frustration. By all accounts, it had been a peaceful event. Until the planned, targeted attacks by snipers that attempted to kill as many police officers as possible.
What we need now is leadership – leadership that unites rather than divides. Leadership that looks at race relations, social conditions, the state of families in minority communities that contribute social challenges – and find solutions – not just blame. We also need to be able to identify police officers that don’t need to be in law enforcement. We simply need stronger leadership in the country – not just leaders that read off statistics, wag their fingers, or mishandle top-secret security documents.
America – we’re better than this – we have better people and resources than this. It’s time to stand up, be different, mentor someone, get involved and let’s take back our country, our community and our societies.
Now that the smog of confusion has cleared, I can make some updates on this tragic episode that ended the lives of 5 law enforcement officers in Dallas. Here are some of the new things that we’ve learned:
- It turns out that that shootings were the responsibility of only one assassin, his name was Micah Johnson, a 25-year-old former soldier in Afghanistan. (The other subjects that were held have been released.) Johnson had been discharged from the army because of allegations of sexual harassment.
- Officials claim that Johnson had no connection to any particular political group or protest group – but his Facebook page showed his support for the New Black Panther Party.
- According to the New York times and the Dallas Police Department, “detectives found bomb-making materials, ballistic vests, rifles, ammunition, and a personal journal of combat tactics.”
- During the more than hours-long negotiations with Dallas police, Micah Johnson repeatedly expressed his desire to kill whites – especially white policemen. When negotiations broke down and Johnson refused to surrender himself or his weapons, he was blown up by a bomb-equipped robot. There is nothing left of him.
What’s happening with race relationships in the US is mystifying. We’ve elected an African American as president twice – which shows that anything is achievable. At the same time, if you look at events through the media’s eyes, race relations are worse than ever. And the police are taking the brunt of the blame and backlash. Yes, discrimination and racism exist all over the world. Yes, there are some bad cops. But the Black Life Matters movement (as well as others) would have you believe a very different and distinct political narrative that is not backed up by the facts.
I won’t detail all of the statistics in this space. But I encourage you to take a look at the following websites to get a truer picture of what’s really going on with discrimination and supposed abuse of power. Given the 13% of African Americans that live in the U.S. and the disproportionate number of crimes that are committed by African Americans, it’s a miracle that there haven’t been more fatal encounters between police officers and blacks. But read these facts for yourself – and the next time you see a police officer, stop and thank him or her for their service.
The Myths of Black Lives Matter (by the Wall Street Journal)