False dichotomy between supporting police or legitimate protest
GEORGE E. CURRY | 7/17/2016, 9:34 p.m.
(EmergeNewsOnline.com) – If Micah Xavier Johnson’s goal was to support people in Dallas who were protesting the fatal police shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, he failed miserably.
Not only did he not advance the cause by killing five law enforcement officers, his deadly action was the catalyst for the public discussion to dramatically shift from videotaped police misconduct to the dangers of policing in America.
The news media, which had been giving extensive coverage to the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, quickly shifted gears and focused almost exclusively on the police attacks in Dallas, filling the airways with touching individual profiles and extolling the virtues of police officers who ran toward danger to protect the public instead of retreating to safety.
The stories of heroism deserved to be told. But so did the unfolding stories behind the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. The media coverage mirrored a larger dilemma: American’s were being told in no uncertain terms that they had to pick sides – they were either on the side of police officers or the side of protesters.
It’s a false dichotomy – one can be supportive of police while also supporting protests against police misconduct. And, as we saw in the news coverage, whenever one is pitted against the other, the police will win every time. And they certainly will win when the killer is Black and all of the victims are White.
The moment the news flashed across television that someone was firing on police officers in Dallas, the natural reflex in Black America was to say, “I hope that person isn’t Black.” African Americans know Blacks and Whites are perceived differently in America.
When 12 people were killed in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, it was blamed on the shooter, James Holmes. Adam Lanza was identified as the killer of 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were fingered as the killers of 13 at Columbine High School in Colorado. Dylan Storm Roof killed nine Black church worshipers in Charleston, South Carolina. And Timothy McVeigh was put to death for masterminding the explosion of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City that left 168 people dead and more than 600 injured.
However, when a Black individual does something reprehensible, too often that guilt immediately gets assigned to all Blacks, not the individual committing the dastardly act.
President Barack Obama addressed that point at a news conference in Warsaw, Poland.
“The demented individual who carried out those attacks in Dallas, he’s no more representative of African Americans than the shooter in Charleston was representative of White Americans, or the shooter in Orlando or San Bernardino were representative of Muslim Americans,” he said. “They don’t speak for us. That’s not who we are.”
Conservatives were quick to blame the president, who was 4,480 miles away at the time, for the Dallas rampage.