That was no accident. Ever since David O Brown took over as chief of police in Dallas in 2010, the city had been proactively working to correct the relationship between police and the community - had taken big, bold steps away from the city's racist past. While other police forces defended indefensible violence against minorities, Dallas police officers underwent extensive training in nonviolent crisis intervention, as well as crisis prevention. The Dallas police force is one of the most transparent in the country. In 2012, there were about two dozen police shootings; in 2015, there were less than a dozen. Seven months into 2016, there had been only one police shooting.
Leonard Pitts, Jr. writing in the Miami Herald had this to say about the violence:
The usual voices of acrimony and confusion are already using this act of despicable evil to delegitimize legitimate protest by conflating it with terrorism, asking us to believe that speaking out against bad cops is the same as shooting cops indiscriminately.But that argument flies directly in the face of what the DPD has worked so hard for over the last six years. The DPD has been striving to prove that police can do better to respect the lives of the people they serve and protect, that the community and the police can have dialogue, cooperation, and mutual respect. Those brave DPD police officers, those who died and those who live, flew right into the line of fire to protect those protesters, to prove that black lives do matter.
Within hours of the vicious attack, videos and other accounts began appearing online of police getting protesters to safety before running right back toward the gunfire. Pictures show police officers and protesters standing together to shield small children. Those cops died proving that we are so much more than us and them, that what unites us can be so much bigger than what divides us.
Brent Thompson, Michael Smith, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, and Patrick Zamarripa gave their lives to protect and serve their community. Obviously, nothing we can do, no amount of money can truly repay them for their sacrifice, but if you want to help the officers and their families, you can donate to Assist the Officer. Since Brent Thompson was a DART officer and not a DPD officer, you might consider a separate donation to the GoFundMe account his employers set up for his family. I hope that the BLM movement rallies behind the DPD. I really hope that we all do.
In Leonard Pitts' Miami Herald article, he quotes Bobby Kennedy in a speech he made just after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
What we need in the United States is not division. What we need in the United States is not hatred. What we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness but is love and wisdom and compassion toward one another and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer in our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.In honor of the fallen DPD officers, and in honor of the too many lives lost to this conflict, let us make this a turning point. Let us make this the event that inspires us to unite instead of factionalize, to embrace love instead of fear, to be one as Americans. It can be done. The DPD and the BLM movement have been working to prove it. Let's all do the same.