I have just come from watching the live coverage of the shooting of police officers in Dallas, which is part of my stomping ground since I grew up in North Central Texas. I know well those streets, the Crowne Plaza Hotel, and Parkland Hospital. Ironically, this all took place only blocks from “the grassy knoll” and the Texas School Book Depository, made infamous by John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Six officers and one civilian injured and five dead. Presumably all shot in protest over the recent deaths of two black men killed by police in Saint Paul, Minnesota and Baton Rouge, Louisiana over the last two days. Two more African-Americans to join many others over the past several years who have been shot and killed with little or no provocation by police.
These shootings occurred in the midst of a peaceful protest over these recent deaths. The officers involved were not the ones who were at fault in the other killings. They were simply out doing their job on a warm summer night in Dallas. The citizens were there exercising their right to free speech and their right to assembly. They did not gather with an idea that shots would be raining down on them.
Frustration is understandably running high and it is difficult to know what will curb police violence perpetrated on African-Americans and other minorities. However, as Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” He would be the first to say that revenge violence is not the answer. Instead, it creates a wider gap between those groups who think in terms of “us” and “them,” and is yet one more example of how we as a nation are getting too comfortable with the idea of pushing the “other” away and dehumanizing them to justify egregious actions. Killing innocent people because of the color of their skin or because they are wearing a police uniform represents two sides of the same coin. That coin is called prejudice and we Americans living in our multicultural society need to figure out as fast as possible how to live peacefully with each other. The alternative is more of what we have seen tonight, only bloodier as tensions rise.
May light perpetual shine upon the two African-American men killed in these past two days and the Dallas police officers who died tonight. And may God help us as a nation to figure out a solution to this needless killing. We are in sore need of guidance to soothe the pain and anger that these deaths bring.
“LIGHTEN our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night.”