I was hesitant to speak out on this latest tragedy because of the raw emotions involved and the complexity of sorting through the elements of gun culture, police culture, the protest culture, and the legacy of racism in this country.
But last night, snipers killed five officers, who were on-duty at a Black Lives Matter march in Dallas. This is a tragic event, and I can only imagine the effect of this terrible loss on their families, friends, and colleagues.
That has turned this issue into the topic of the day, dwarfing everything else in both traditional and social media. Unfortunately, it also has buried our ability to sort through the issues involved. Predictably, there is an attempt to blame the deaths of the officers on the Black Lives Matter movement, including from some Texas leaders. This simplistic appeal to an “us versus them” mentality requires a response.
Let’s be clear. Black Lives Matter did not shoot at police in Dallas last night; individuals with guns did that. Black Lives Matter also did not invent the killing of two men in Falcon Heights and Baton Rouge, in what appears to be law enforcement execution at worst, and tragic incompetence at best. These are only the two most recent in a string of events made public only because of now-ubiquitous video technology. We grant police the right to make life and death decisions, but not without question or with impunity. There is much evidence that too often, this government-sanctioned violence is exercised too quickly and easily, especially against minorities. Anyone who doesn’t get that simply lives in a different reality than millions of Americans, and to deny the reality lived by millions shows a stunning lack of empathy.
We can and will find a way to live together peacefully with respect for each other’s rights, but not until we have the very hard conversation required to right some wrongs in this country. Rather than deepening the divisions by continuing to play on the politics of fear, it is incumbent on state leaders to begin that dialogue. I will always condemn violence against the police, but I will not be silent about policies and procedures that lead to unjustified deaths, the brunt of which are borne by minority communities.
Friday morning, Bishop Mark Seitz – who lived and served in Dallas – released the following statement on the sniper attact that left five police officers dead, and 12 others wounded.
“My heart is broken to hear that last night, in my former home of Dallas, once again violence has been employed against innocent people, this time against police officers who have dedicated their lives to protecting us, men and women who were guarding a peaceful protest. In a week in which the country is rightly horrified by what appears to have been unprovoked shootings of people of color, the cycle of violence has continued to exact its terrible toll.
The temptation in the face of this violence is to further arm ourselves and to further militarize our society. The more guns proliferate in our communities, the more often guns will be resorted to in times of anger and stress with long-lasting consequences.
More than ever I believe that only love can break the cycle of violence and only the love of God revealed in Jesus can provide the strength we need to love as much as we must to find the way to justice and peace.
I ask the El Paso Catholic community to join me in prayer today and in the difficult days ahead for those who were killed, the wounded and their families.
Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steven McCraw today issued the following statement regarding the shootings in Dallas:
“Today the Texas Department of Public Safety mourns the loss of our fellow law enforcement officers as well as those injured in the line of duty in Dallas last night. We join the people of Dallas, our brothers and sisters in law enforcement, and the families and friends of those impacted by this attack in trying to grasp the reality of this senseless tragedy.
“Protecting Texas would be impossible without the devotion and hard work of all the dedicated members of law enforcement who put their lives on the line every day to help keep their communities safe. As a law enforcement agency, when any peace officer dies in the line of duty, we all lose a comrade and a member of our family.
“Our department will provide any law enforcement resources and support needed to assist the City of Dallas in the wake of this reprehensible attack.”
According to statements from Dallas Police Chief David Brown and the City of Dallas, Three Dallas police officers were killed and eight others were wounded. One Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer was fatally shot, the agency tweeted.
Via their Facebook page, Dallas Police Chief David Brown released the following statement Thursday evening:
“Tonight it appears that two snipers shot ten police officers from elevated positions during the protest/rally. Three officers are deceased, two are in surgery and three are in critical condition. An intensive search for suspects is currently underway. No suspects are in custody at this time. We ask that any citizen with information regarding the shootings tonight call 214-671-3482. We will provide more information once it is available. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers tonight.”
Live Coverage courtesy NBCDFW | Continuing Coverage: CNN