Don’t allow Dallas to become an excuse to stop fighting for our rights

Twelve police officers were shot, five are dead and two civilians were also injured in an ambush during a peaceful protest of recent lynchings by police. Our condolences go out to all the victims and their families.

Hundreds of people of all races were marching down Lamar St. between Commerce and Main, mere blocks from Dealey Plaza where President Kennedy was assassinated, when gunfire erupted around 9 p.m. last night from the top floor of a parking garage.

The ambush was a cowardly act and the wrong type of response to recent lynchings by police of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

One suspect was killed and police have several suspects in custody. Dallas Police Chief, David Brown, said the following about the dead suspect; “he was upset about Black Lives Matter, he said he was upset about the recent police shootings. The suspect said he was upset at white people. The suspect stated he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers. The suspect stated he was not affiliated with any groups, and he stated that he did it alone.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown was absolutely correct, police do need and should expect our support, however, support should not only run in one direction. When police officers murder innocent people or even suspects, other officers need to stop protecting them. When good police remain silent about the deeds of bad cops or when those deeds are covered up, they increase the likelihood that this type of response will eventually take place by someone mentally ill and angry. 

Innocent man originally identified as a suspect

Mark Hughes, the brother of the Dallas protest organizer, was exercising his second amendment right to open carry, similar to Oath Keepers during the Ferguson Protests. Hughes was named in the media as a suspect because he was seen earlier with an AR15 rifle strapped over his shoulder. The police do not want us to jump to conclusions because of videos, but they jumped to conclusions and placed a man's life in jeopardy, simply for exercising his constitutional right to bear arms.

I don't believe assault weapons should be authorized for civilians, but the open carry law should apply equally to everyone. Original gun restrictions and the first modern gun laws were intended to keep guns out of the hands of black people. See video on our "Armed and Black" post.

Mark Hughes speaks to the media after the Dallas Police Department erroneously announced him as a suspect involved in the fatal shooting of several officers during a protest on Thursday.

Double standards must stop

The video above demonstrates the type of double standard that must change in this country. During the Ferguson Protests, none of the multiple white guys carrying assault rifles who called themselves the Oath Keepers were ever named as suspects when shootings occurred during those protests.

A person identified as Changa, an organizer with the Dallas Action Coalition told a reporter from The Daily Beast; “If you don’t give the people justice after a certain amount of time they get hopeless and seek other means of justice.” In his 20 years of activism, Changa said, he could not get any response from the local Dallas community. “So it’s sad, but it’s ironic.”

Changa's expression is similar to those expressed by Frederick Douglass 130 years ago; “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe” 

The shooting in Dallas is the result of a disease that if left untreated will most likely be repeated. The symptoms of racism, poverty, oppression, and injustice when combined results in anger, hopelessness, mental illness and retaliation. We have seen these symptoms take the lives of black men and women in urban areas all across America for years. Some young black men, especially those who believe they have nothing to lose, are starting to focus their anger on targets other than themselves.

Trevor Noah from the Daily Show give a great critique of the double standard in this country during a discussion about the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

Role Reversal

Prior to the shooting in Dallas, the following headline appeared on the St. Louis Post Dispatch's website; "Police experts urge restraint in reaching conclusions about latest shooting controversies". The videos of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile speak volumes. I don't need an investigation or analysis to explain what is clear to anyone looking at those videos.

The video footage of the Dallas shooting is equally clear, however, I don't expect anyone would dare suggest that we should use restraint before reaching to conclusions. Five police officers were murder, end of conclusion! Two black men were lynched by police, end of conclusion!

If video exists of a suspect shooting one of those officers, no one would suggest sending that suspect home with pay until an investigation is finished a year later. No, I expect that suspect to be immediately arrested if possible. It would be an insult to those officers who gave their lives in the line of duty to suggest anything less. However, when a police officer clearly committed murder on video and is sent to the comfort of his home and taxpayers are forced to continue providing the murderer with a paycheck, that is an insult as well. The ultimate insult occurs when no charges are brought against the officer. 

The killing of those five police officers was senseless and tragic. The killings of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Eric Harris, Mansur Ball-Bey, Laquan McDonald, Samuel Dubose and many others were also senseless and tragic. 

While we pray for the families of the twelve officers injured and killed, let's not forget the twelve victims name above and all the others who were killed by police "for no apparent reason". That's why these protests all over the country are taking place because police for all intents and purposes are above the law. There is no equal treatment under the law as long as police officers can abuse, humiliate and murder innocent people with impunity and suffer no consequences. 

Black police officers

A black female Cleveland Police officer, Nakia Jones, recently acknowledge that fact in a stirring and moving video she made in response to the Alton Sterling lynching.

Officer Jones isn't the only Black police officer complaining about racism in the ranks. Below is a video of three Black St. Louis Police Officers discussing their negative experiences with white officers.

Ironically, just yesterday, the St. Louis Black Police Union called for the resignation of Sam Dotson, the current police chief, because of racism, discrimination, cronyism and even crime within the department.

The media's attention will certainly be focused on Dallas and rightfully so. The police chief, mayors, governors and other public officials and leaders will argue it's time to stop protesting and fully support the police. That would be a false narrative.

I am pro-police, but I am anti-brutality. I don't want to live in an area where I can't call and rely on help from the police. But that's the whole point! I shouldn't fear encounters with police, especially during times when I need them the most; but that is the reality. To stop protesting obvious injustice with certain police encounters would be a monumental mistake and would only embolden and invite continued brutality and murders by rogue officers. 

Potential dangers of rogue police

When police lose respect for the people in a community or when a community fears its police force, there's a sort of unspoken invitation for corruption. Police are public servants and as Officer Jones so eloquently stated, they take a vow to protect and serve. 

Years ago, I heard rumors that the white police chief, who has long since retired, was the head of a local drug cartel. I originally dismissed those claims as an urban legend, and I am not now saying those rumors are true, but over time I seriously began to wonder if they were true. A close family friend called to report what she suspected was drug activity on her block. There was no action taken against the suspected drug house, but housing inspectors showed up to her house the next day resulting in citations costing thousands of dollars and had to mortgage her home to make the repairs.

A relative, who had gone to jail on drug charges and has since passed away, upon mention of calling the police, stated how the then police chief controls drug activity in St. Louis. He said police officers harass, arrest, shakedown and even kill drug dealers competing with drug dealers who are a part of the police network. I know of people making anonymous calls to police to report drug activity who were later retaliate against by the same drug dealers. After hearing about these sort of incidents and others over the years it became increasing difficult to not consider the possibility that the rumors might be true.

Regardless, it's time to take back control of our communities, public officials and require them to serve us properly or get out of the way so we can find others who will. One of the major issues with St. Louis City Police Officers is that they are not required to live in the city in which they serve. That doesn't make any sense to me. Every other city employee is required to live in the City of St. Louis within 120 days of employment. Most city employees are required to maintain residency to keep their jobs, but police officers are allowed to move after seven years, as we stated, police are above the law.

As Jessie Williams recently stated, "The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander. That’s not our job, all right, stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest in equal rights for black people then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down."