Earlier this week I (a white male) said to my co worker (a black male) that it is only a matter of time before a group of people storm a police station and take a slew of them out with military precision. I said it out of anger, I was so upset about Philando Castile and Alton Sterling that my rage was over taking my sensibility.
I had no idea that the ominous statement I made earlier in the day was going to materialize just later that night.
When a police officer kills an innocent man, while a 4 year old girl is in the back of the car, it creates an overwhelming sense of injustice. In some peoples minds the only solution is retaliation against an entire profession. The thought might go something like ‘police are shooting and killing innocent people, it’s time that they get a dose of their own medicine’.
Then it happens and all too quickly the realization dawns that these police officers are innocent people with families as well. Suddenly the angry thoughts I had earlier in the day make me feel ashamed and disgusted with myself. I cannot believe I could fall in to the trap of generalizing an entire group of people.
Not all Muslim are Terrorists
Not all Blacks are Criminals
Not all White Police are Racist
Last night the police were able to arrest three suspects (this article was written before it was revealed that Micah Johnson was the ‘lone shooter’), Dallas police did an outstanding job. If only officers in Baton Rouge and Minnesota had been as well trained. If only they had been able to arrest and/or ticket their suspects without it turning deadly.
If these officers in question were all as well prepared and capable as the DPD there is a very good chance there would not have been the massively violent and criminal response that we saw in Dallas.
Another conversation my co-worker and I had yesterday afternoon went something like this:
‘The officer who shot Philando will get away with it because the shooting itself was not caught on camera’ – Co-Worker
‘You know what, I almost hope he does get away with it, because then people are really going to go buck wild and that might be exactly what is needed to get the point across’ – Me
I could not have been more wrong. If the police officers who killed Philando Castile and Alton Sterling end up serving 40 years in jail a ton of their peers will be reconsidering pulling their gun out of the holster. They will fear that they will be the next officer to finally be held responsible for their actions.
However the alternative, ‘people going buck wild’ is exactly what happened in Dallas. Not a single police officer saw this and thought to themselves that they are going to be less trigger happy. As a matter of fact the opposite will occur. Every single officer in America will have their hands rested on their service pistol anxious and nervous on each call they respond to.
Anxious and nervous men and women with guns are going to kill more innocent people. They don’t do it maliciously, they do it because at any given moment snipers could be around the corner waiting for them.
If I made that statement last week I would have sounded crazy, ‘at any given moment snipers could be around the corner’.
This is reality now, this is America now.
Last night is not the end of this fight, unfortunately it is most likely the beginning.
The part we have to play is of positive role models. We can not fall in to the old divide and conquer routine. We cannot place blame and direct hatred towards groups of people whether they are killer cops or cop killers.
We need to spread love and tolerance in order to right hate and bigotry.