It has happened previously. Throughout the history of this country, 'law enforcement' has violently kept the black man in 'his place', whether that was as a slave or on the lowest rung on the social ladder. All along the system has supported the brutal methods employed by the police without a hint of remorse. Just keep' em in their place. And, in response, there have been (what's the word here) rebellions, uprisings, protests, marches... retaliatory shootings.
This can be seen from many different perspectives. The victims were military veterans, husbands, fathers and brothers who served the city of Dallas – and died protecting the rights of fellow Americans to criticize their brethren in blue. Or, they were the brutal enemy, killed before they themselves could victimize some helpless black man.
It all goes beyond the particular people involved in this tragedy. These people all have names and will be condemned or commemorated but are nothing more than pawns in a huge process that probably none of them understood.
Certainly Mr. Johnson did not understand. According to reports, he targeted white people as well as the police demonstrating his scattered focus. This is not an issue that can be broken into white people and black people... or any other division of people. It is easy to recognize the enemy when the enemy wears a uniform, so targeting police can be understood. But, even though the society at large, obviously directed by white people, has not caused the needed changes, white people themselves are not the problem.
The generic police officer simply has a job with which they feed their family. They do not make the many connections that would allow them to understand the overall function performed in their line of work. This is common among those in similar positions through history... concentration camp guards, for example didn't directly administer the gas, administrators in the bureau of Indian affairs didn't directly annihilate Native Americans.
It is only a selected few 'bad cops' that really do the damage. Every city and every police department has them. And, within the system of 'law enforcement' these 'bad cops' are known. We know who they are. The real problem is that these 'bad cops' are protected. The system goes to great lengths to justify that which cannot in good conscious be justified simply to 'protect ones own'... and damn the evidence. Where is the 'good cop' who would stand against the 'bad cop'?
And, knowing full well who this person is, the 'bad cop' is put back out into society to do it again. It is clearly with a purpose that we don't keep adequate statistics on the subject of police murders and police beatings. It is only when we developed the personal phone with a camera that the subject was acknowledged and then, even with video proof, the 'bad cop' still has been allowed to escape justice.
There are no consequences for that 'bad cop' who goes out and kills himself a nigger. And now, we have a chance to do something about it because Mr. Johnson gave his life to try to make a difference.
It catches on, others notice, the injustice builds and the pressure explodes... police officers were also shot Friday in Georgia, Tennessee and Missouri... likely not the end of the process.
It is not over. It will not be over until we have systematic changes in this country. The various hatreds must be understood for what they are and the haters must be called out for what they are. Otherwise, the hatred festers, grows worse over time and forces unwanted reactions. As a nation, we need to be aware that, even with all of our overseas aggressions, our own 'men in blue' kill more Americans than enemy soldiers kill in overseas battles. Something is wrong with us.
The question is, will we use this tragedy as an opportunity to work toward healing ourselves from this affliction that has been with us since our inception as a nation, or will we repress the truth, attempt to maintain the status quo and wait for the next occurrence? Based upon our national history, one cannot expect much in the way of sincere improvement, therefore, get ready for more of the same... and that's the truth !!!
As Police Killings of Minorities Mount,
Attacks on Police Like the One in Dallas, While Awful, Are Sadly Predictable
By Dave Lindorff
The deadly sniper attack on Dallas police was horrific, but sadly predictable, as police have killed over 500 people so far this year, writes TCBH! journalist Dave Lindorff. What's needed is a new commitment to equal justice, and accountability for police, not more repression.
The tragedy that is America has deepened with the news that a sniper -- a decorated black Army veteran trained to kill in America's Middle East wars -- slayed five white police officers in 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 and most of them unarmed -- 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 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" was a clearly deranged individual who killed his girlfriend too, before shooting a police officer in his patrol car. This time, it was a soldier, 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 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.
In the post 9-11 era of military policing, the situation in minority communities today is at least as bad as, and probably worse, than it was in the 1960s. Social welfare programs that were created in response to the '60s riots, have been gutted, causing poverty and hopelessness to spread and deepen. Prisons have been filled with mostly non-white inmates as sentencing guidelines have become stricter and sentences longer. Violence in urban neighborhoods has exploded, and police today in many cities perceive themselves not as "peace officers" but as soldiers operating in hostile war zones, and act accordingly.
In America, Law Enforcement Makes Communities of Color Less Safe—Not More
There is little likelihood of peace in the United States as long as armed law enforcement touches so many aspects of daily life for people of color, “creating too many opportunities for it to inflict violence upon the public it is supposed to serve,” writes Kai Wright at The Nation, after the back-to-back videotaped police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
Writes The Nation’s features editor:
This has always been true for black people, in one way or another. From the 1793 Fugitive Slave Act forward, public safety officers have been empowered to harass black bodies in the defense of private capital and the pursuit of public revenue. As a result, no generation of black Americans has been spared the macabre tradition of drilling into its children tips for avoiding death at the hands of the state—not during slavery, not during the era of black codes that followed war, not during Jim Crown, not during the indiscriminate war on drugs, and not in the current era of cops functioning as tax collectors on the poor in decimated municipalities.
Debbie Nathan’s moving biography of Sandra Bland in our May 19 issue is a must read for understanding how this modern version of the 220-year-old system functions to destroy black life. From Illinois to Texas, Bland was stalked by an overzealous police apparatus that hunted vulnerable residents who could be targeted with fines and fees, money that local governments desperately needed to fill the holes created by state and federal austerity—zealotry that begat zealotry that begat death.
From case to case the details have shifted, but a depressing through line for all of the people whose names have become hashtags over the past two years is the ho-hum way in which their last moments began.
In each case, one can reasonably ask why the encounter involved armed, hyped up cops at all. Which points to a more fundamental solution than those we most often discuss when we march through the grimly familiar stations of public mourning and debate that will accompany Sterling and Castile’s deaths.
Yes, cameras are a reasonable precaution, both those worn by cops and those that brave citizens wield. Absolutely, better training in the use of non-lethal force and awareness of implicit bias is a must.
Surely creating systems to evaluate law enforcement officials based on the help they provide rather than the arrests they make would improve things. And no doubt prosecutors need to be reigned in.
But all of these things ease the symptoms rather than treat the disease. We need to start asking why we have so much law enforcement in the first place, and whether much of it is truly needed. Law enforcement agencies are among the largest and most powerful bureaucracies in most localities and they are deeply enmeshed in our daily lives, particularly in communities of color.
They are our first responders. They are in our schools. They are our immigration officials. For the most vulnerable among us, they are often what passes for social workers and mental health care providers. And they are armed.
At some point, we must question whether all of this law enforcement is necessary, and whether public safety is best served by having much, much less of it.
There will no doubt be calls, particularly this having happened in Texas, for an even more militaristic crackdown by police on minority neighborhoods. But that would be a terrible mistake. What is needed is an amping down of the violence on both sides -- the communities and the police. And also an amping down of the rhetoric, particularly by political leaders.
American society needs to start living up to its demonstrably false claim to be a just society of equality under the law.
This is a good place to note that while this deadly assault on police in Dallas represents the worst attack on law enforcement personnel in memory, it is not the first planned coordinated sniper attack in Texas or the US. The last one, which was reportedly planned but never activated, was to have taken place in neighboring Houston, in November 2011. It was not, however, intended to target police officers. Rather, it was intended to assassinate the leaders of the Houston Occupy movement, which was just getting going in that city that fall.
A heavily redacted memorandum (provided to ThisCantBeHappening! by the Partnership for Civil Justice and obtained by that public interest lawfirm in a pile of documents it received in response to a Freedom of Information request), sent from the Houston FBI office to the Bureau's national headquarters in Washington, DC explains:
"An identified [DELETED] as of October planned to engage in sniper attacks against protesters in Houston, Texas, if deemed necessary. An identified [DELETED] had received intelligence that indicated the protesters in New York and Seattle planned similar protests in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin, Texas. [DELETED] planned to gather intelligence against the leaders of the protest groups and obtain photographs, then formulate a plan to kill the leadership via suppressed sniper rifles. (Note: protests continued throughout the weekend with approximately 6000 persons in NYC. 'Occupy Wall Street' protests have spread to about half of all states in the US, over a dozen European and Asian cities, including protests in Cleveland 10//8/11 at Willard Park which was initially attended by hundreds of protesters."
A second document, a memo from the Jacksonville, Florida FBI office sent out to a number of regional FBI offices and to Bureau headquarters in D.C., indicated that the plan, while not activated in Houston, may have been put on hold indefinitely:
"On 13 October 20111, writer sent via email an excerpt from the daily [DELETED] regarding FBI Houston's [DELETED] to all IAs, SSRAs and SSA [DELETED] This [DELETED] identified the exploitation of the Occupy Movement by [LENGTHY DELETION] interested in developing a long-term plan to kill local Occupy leaders via sniper fire."
The really disturbing aspect of all this is that when ThisCantBeHappening! contacted the FBI in Washington to find out what the Bureau had done about this deadly plot, which, as described, sounds like it may have involved some law enforcement or perhaps private security organization in Houston, we were basically blown off, and advised to contact the Houston FBI office or the Houston Police. The former would not return calls, and the latter claimed not to have even heard of the plot.
There were never any arrests of the Houston sniper plotters, though the FBI normally makes a big public announcement whenever it busts up some real or manufactured terrorism plot, suggesting that the Bureau was not at all concerned about this known plan to murder leaders of a lawful protest movement against corporate power.
Again, none of this justifies the murder of police officers, but it is important to note the grotesque double standard of justice that exists, not just in Texas, but in the nation as a whole.
Organizing to defend a community from abusive police, back in the late 1960s, prompted the US government to organize a massive coordinated campaign of ruthless repression against the perpetrators -- the Black Panther Party. But organizing a plot to murder the leaders of a peaceful demonstration against corporate power in the capital of the US oil industry apparently led to no action at all by the nation's top law enforcement agency. (Nor did anyone in Congress see fit to call a hearing to investigation this plot of the resulting FBI inaction.)
The same double standard applies to the problem of police brutality and murder of blacks and other people of color. If a cop is killed -- especially by a person of color -- the full weight of the law enforcement and legal establishment is brought down on the alleged perpetrator. A good example of this is the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the Philadelphia journalist who was convicted in an abomination of a trial in 1982 for the 1981 killing of a white Philadelphia police officer. Sentenced to death initially, Abu-Jamal spent over two decades on Pennsylvania's death row before ultimately having that sentence overturned by a federal court, leaving him facing life without possibility of parole.
But at every turn, from being left to bleed to death in a police van from a police bullet before finally being brought to a hospital to having his legal appeals rejected by higher courts that had granted relief to other prisoners on the same grounds, down to the present time where the state's Dept. of Corrections is leaving him untreated for a severe diagnosed case of easily curable active Hepatitis C, Abu Jamal has been abused by police and by the legal system.
Yet as we have seen over and over, especially in the past few years thanks to the proliferation of documentation via cellphones, when police murder an unarmed black or brown suspect (and often a white one too), they escape prosecution, or if prosecuted, skate free on a technicality.
A common refrain at #blacklivesmatter protests is the phrase "No justice, no peace!"
The intent of that phrase is that as long as there is no justice there will be protests. The reality, though, in a nation that so readily turns to guns to solve its grievances, is that there will also be events like what just happened in Dallas.
It's time to turn things around, not by just ramping up the police repression, but by making justice a reality for all, and not just the privileged class.
DAVE LINDORFF is a member of ThisCantBeHappening!, the uncompromised, collectively run, five-time Project Censored Award-winning online alternative news site. His work, and that of colleagues JOHN GRANT, JESS GUH, GARY LINDORFF, ALFREDO LOPEZ, LINN WASHINGTON, JR. and the late CHARLES M. YOUNG, can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net
(Article changed on July 8, 2016 at 11:10)
(Article changed on July 8, 2016 at 15:48)
Dave Lindorff is a founding member of the collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper www.thiscantbehappening.net. He is a columnist for Counterpunch, is author of several recent books ("This Can't Be Happening! Resisting the Disintegration of American Democracy" and "Killing Time: An Investigation into the Death Penalty Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal"). His latest book, coauthored with Barbara Olshanshky, is "The Case for Impeachment: The Legal Argument for Removing President George W. Bush from Office (St. Martin's Press, May 2006).