Why terror at Black Lives Matter event shouldn’t smear the movement
The brutal terrorist attack against Dallas officers should not end our national discussion about recent Black lives lost
The horrendous terrorist attack targeting police officers at a Black Lives Matter (BLM) demonstration in Dallas, Texas, that left five officers dead and another seven people, including two civilians, injured, should not be capitalized on to smear the movement. When Micah Xavier Johnson opened fatal fire from a nearby building, ending the lives of innocent people who were taking photos with BLM protesters and tweeting out updates about the demonstration only hours prior, he jeopardized the welfare of every single person attending the demonstration.
The brutal terrorist attack against Dallas officers – apparently motivated by extremist ideology espoused by Black separatist groups – should not end our national discussion about recent Black lives lost, including Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. And it should not further divide the nation.
The latest reports indicate that Johnson, an Afghanistan veteran and former US Army reservist, had been plotting his assault against police officers for quite some time; his decision to execute his attack during a BLM protest – with the timing and location absolutely jeopardizing Black lives – underscores just how unaligned with the movement Johnson was. This is a point worth reiterating.
In addition to the aftermath of the attack, which has led some to attempt to blame the movement itself, Johnson could have been directly responsible for the bloodshed of the very people he claims to have carried out an attack on behalf of. It is only because of the professionalism and care Dallas police officers took – as soon as shots were fired and utter chaos erupted – that more people weren’t killed or wrongfully considered suspects.
Those in a position of influence who are attempting to exacerbate tensions between BLM protesters and police should be shamed and dismissedBrooklyn Middleton
Johnson wanted to go on a murderous rampage and kill white police officers; he did not want to honor or protect Black lives. If his goal was the latter, he would have involved himself in peaceful activism not distracted from precisely that.
Prior to the attack, the deaths of Alton Sterling – fatally shot by police outside of a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile - shot to death during a routine traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, were the latest police-related deaths to trigger outrage and calls for sweeping changes.
Castile’s girlfriend, Lavish Reynolds, – a fellow passenger in the vehicle that was reportedly stopped for a broken taillight, recorded the immediate aftermath of the shooting; Castile bleeds to death on camera while his girlfriend notes he is licensed to carry while the police officer – sounding utterly panicked with his gun still drawn – screams, “I told him not to reach for it!” Reynolds’s four-year-old daughter witnesses the entire shooting from the backseat.
Following the deadly incident, The New York Times reported that Governor Mark Dayton of Minnesota poignantly asked, “Would this have happened if the driver were white, if the passengers were white? I don’t think it would have.”
Immediately following the terrorist attack in Dallas, former Congressman Joe Walsh responded by tweeting out a threat to BLM “punks” and to President Obama himself, who he told to “Watch out.” It is precisely this type of incitement that could trigger further violence and terrify people into questioning whether the US is currently embroiled in a “Civil War.”
In sharp contrast to such incendiary remarks and headlines, Dallas police chief David Brown has continued to remain calm and call for unity, vowing that the attack “will not discourage us from continuing the pace of urgency in chasing and reforming policing in America.”
The country is in mourning; pleas for unity should not be deemed as a trite response to the tragedy in Dallas but as a sincere call for deescalating tensions and preventing future bloodshed. Meanwhile, those in a position of influence who are attempting to exacerbate tensions between BLM protesters and police should be shamed and dismissed.
Brooklyn Middleton is an American Political and Security Risk Analyst currently based in New York City. She has previously written about U.S. President Obama's policy in Syria as well as Bashar al-Assad's continued crimes against his own people. She recently finished her MA thesis on Ayatollah Khomeini’s influence on the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group, completing her Master's degree in Middle Eastern Studies. You can follow her on Twitter here: @BklynMiddleton.