George V. Reilly

Black Lives Matter: Alton, Philando, and Dallas

What an awful week for race relations in the United States of America. On Monday night, Alton Sterling was shot and killed by Baton Rouge police. One night later, Philando Castile was shot and killed by police in Minnesota. Both men were black and neither was resisting arrest. Both shootings were caught on video, which inflamed passions. On Thursday night at a peaceful rally in Dallas protesting police violence, two snipers killed five police officers and wounded seven others. Micah Johnson was later killed by police in a standoff; three others were arrested.

The police should not have killed Alton Sterling or Philando Castile—or Tamir Rice or Freddie Gray or Sandra Bland or many other innocent black men, women, and children. The outrage of the Black Lives Matter movement is justified. Racial profiling is real and black people are targeted and killed by police across the country at a much higher rate than whites. But murdering police officers who were doing a good, non-con­fronta­tion­al job of escorting the rally is vile and senseless. BLM is not to blame for the Dallas murders, which they im­me­di­ate­ly condemned; that was the work of a few radicals. Thankfully no-one has died since, but it will be weeks at the most before some other outrage stokes anger. Eight years of naked racism throughout Obama’s presidency coupled with a year of Trump’s dem­a­goguery makes a white backlash a real danger.

It’s going to take a lot of hard work to reduce the violence and the causes of that violence.

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