As Police Killings of Minorities Mount, Attacks on Police Like the One in Dallas, While Awful, Are Also Sadly Predictable
The tragedy that is America has deepened with news that a sniper -- a decorated black Army veteran trained to kill in America's Middle East wars -- slayed five white police officers in Dallas as they policed a protest march and rally against police brutality and killings sponsored by BlackLivesMatter.
The murder of anybody, whether it’s a police officer or someone who is simply stopped by a cop for a minor traffic violation and is then shot because a jumpy officer mistakes reaching for a wallet to be reaching for a gun, as happened just two days ago in suburban St. Paul, is a dreadful thing.
But it has to be said that, with American police -- most of them white -- gunning down over 500 people -- most of them black or brown, most of them unarmed, and some of them just kids -- in just the first half of this year, it was bound to happen that somebody would eventually decide to retaliate by taking revenge on the police (especially given the number of working-class people of all races who have had military training, thanks to this country's endless wars). That’s not to justify what happened in Dallas, where a total of 14 people were shot, including seven wounded police and two civilians. It’s just to say that if the police continue to treat one or several segments of American society as presumptive dangerous felons or even as enemy combatants in a war zone, and if the legal system continues to give brutal and killer cops a pass when they maim or kill innocent citizens, including young children, effectively granting them immunity for their atrocities, there will inevitably be a violent reaction.
Of course, this happened once before, after the controversial police murder of Eric Garner, a black man selling "loosie" single cigarettes on the street who was suffocated by an arresting officer using a choke hold. But the killer who later shot and killed a police officer in "revenge" for that cop killing was a clearly deranged individual who killed his girlfriend too, before shooting a random police officer in his patrol car. This time around, it was a soldier,a man who seems to have thought through and planned out what he was doing as a calculated act of revenge.
Recall the origins of the Black Panther movement, which grew out of a period of urban riots and insurrections across the country to which the nation responded not with jobs, social programs and better school funding, but with military assaults and occupations by armed soldiers. The Panthers openly armed themselves and started shadowing police on patrol in their communities, determined to make it clear that police could not occupy their communities and abuse the residents with impunity. Their bold actions were initially effective, but they brought down on themselves the full repressive force of the federal government, which launched a full-scale attack to destroy the Panther organization, using informants, agents provocateur, dirty tricks, mass arrests and murder.