The Morning After Dallas

The morning after: Most media (outside the right wing fever swamp) are being surprisingly restrained in covering the Dallas shootings and NOT blaming it on ‪#‎BLM‬ – so far. The tendency also seems to be that the aftermath of the shootings in MN and LA that led to large protests yesterday in Dallas, here in Seattle, and in countless other cities continues to be part of the story – it’s all being treated as one story (which it is), rather than Dallas being used to bury the killings that sparked yesterday’s protests. The extraordinary live FB video of the Minnesota victim’s girlfriend, which begins moments after the shooting while the officer who just killed her BF still has his gun drawn at her, is emerging as an equally pivotal moment and a powerful counterweight to the horror in Dallas, humanizing the victims of police violence in real time in a way we’ve never seen before. The emerging media and political consensus seems to be, not using Dallas to bury this country’s police problem, but to amplify it, as if to say, “the status quo cannot hold.” It could still easily change, but so far, that’s good.

And while Texas, like much of Red America, is full of RWNJs who won’t use the last three days to reflect on anything other than their own hatreds, the cities of Dallas and Houston (where a younger me lived for several years) can be surprisingly progressive in some ways – and the Dallas police chief, amidst his own tragedies, has also emerged overnight as a surprisingly thoughtful figure.

Some good might come of all of this yet. I sure hope so, because the alternative is an escalation of America’s already existing low-grade urban warfare, with its police forces as well-armed guerrilla armies whose appetite for random violence against their targets – mostly black and brown Americans – can seem limitless. Responsible voices are saying, “This shit’s got to end before it gets far worse.” And they’re right.

The proper response today is not to lioniize members of forces like SPD as a breed apart, but to ask how to ensure that they are NOT treated any longer as a breed apart – working to treat them as part of our communities rather than our communities’ occupying armies (heroic or otherwise). Turning that ship around is going to take time – but nobody’s about to abolish policing in this country, so it’s got to be done. The alternative is more and more urban warfare – and as with this country’s limitless appetite for warfare overseas, there are plenty of forces who’d be thrilled with and enriched by that outcome. Treating cops like human beings – and like respected but ACCOUNTABLE members of our communities – is the only constructive way this can go.

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