It’s as if this week wasn’t already hard enough to digest. This morning, Americans woke up to a day of unforeseen circumstances littered with the lingering senseless cruelty from yesterday’s string of unfortunate events.
On Thursday night, Micah Johnson reportedly opened fire with a sniper rifle killing five police officers and injuring six more. This took place at the protests in Dallas, which were organized because of the police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, that took place earlier this week.
When incomprehensible tragedies occur on a seemingly rhythmic basis, it becomes increasingly difficult to establish a conversation that is imperative to enacting change, and putting forth a legitimate plan of action. In recent years, it has become more and more evident that there is a serious divide between police officers, and everyday citizens, predominantly African-Americans.
There is also a major divide between differences of opinion. The culture of today’s society tends to categorize people, and label them. This is the exact type of discord that leads to a failure of being able to grasp all sides of an issue.
For example, if someone is a conservative, than they are almost instinctively hated by liberals, and vice versa. The same goes for those who pride themselves as Black Lives Matter, or Blue Lives Matter supporters—if you’re not “x” you’re “y.”
This type of environment is detrimental to all, and will never result in positive change. Just because someone is aware of the systemic racism within law enforcement, which does in fact exist, and they criticize the abuses of power, does not mean that they are opposed to police officers as a whole. Any rational person is distraught and speechless after last nights shootings in Dallas. In fact, prominent BLM activists, and civil rights leaders have spoken out and condemned what happened.
So why does the United States appear to be more divided than ever? This country should be working towards ending violence on both sides of the aisle. It is crucial that police officers are held accountable in scenarios of wrongdoing because if they are not, it enables unrestricted power without checks and balances that inevitably and unfortunately leads to backlash.
But it is also important to recognize that their profession is not an easy task by any means, and those who properly do their job must continue to have the unconditional support of the public. Responding to violence with more violence only creates intense hatred, and has never solved a thing.
The issue with law enforcement today includes a number of variables, although the key factor that has tended to stick out is training. An article in The Atlantic points out how more training contributes to less unwarranted deaths.
This is a conversation that our country is in desperate need of, especially in wake of the killings of Sterling, and Castile. Obviously, not all police officers are at fault for this or racist, and no officer should be subject to a violent retaliation. Despite that, in order to solve the ongoing problems in society, it is paramount that people are heard and understood from all angles, not just biased agendas or preconceived notions.
The United States is better than the recent events that have occurred, and responding in a peaceful, reasonable matter is vital to creating a culture that is more accepting and tolerant. In order to take those steps the country must admit, as a whole, that there is reform needed within law enforcement. Speaking out about that should not be looked down upon, but rather welcomed as the country continues to evolve and fix flaws within itself.
I believe Jon Stewart said it best when he pointed out:
“You can truly grieve for every officer who’s been lost in the line of duty in this country, and still be troubled by cases of police overreach, those two ideas are not mutually exclusive. You can have great regard for law enforcement and still want them to be held to high standards.”
Charlie May recently graduated from the Ramapo College of New Jersey, receiving a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. His main focus is politics, national security, foreign affairs, money in politics, and investigative pieces. He hopes to bring a fresh, unique perspective to Bold.