By Tim Hjersted
Jul 9, 2016
The tragedy of violence and loss of life in Dallas is what is otherwise known as "blowback." In this case it is the unintended consequence of a national police culture that terrorizes, murders, and abuses its non-white citizens on a near daily basis, year after year, without accountability, justice, or any change in policy in sight.
(If "police terrorism" sounds like hyperbole, see this, this, this and this.)
Understanding the causes of the violence in Dallas in no way condones that violence. But to put it in simple terms, when people do fucked up things, more bad shit is going to happen in consequence.
Personally, I'm furious that it has come to this point. I'm mad at a national government and police culture that has ignored, stonewalled and resisted the pleas of the Black Lives Matter movement and their allies for the last several years (to say nothing of the last several decades or centuries). The movement on the outside of those police walls have been begging the police to simply respect their lives. "Stop fucking killing us! Stop abusing us! Hold murderous cops accountable," the movement has cried. Yet these basic calls for humanity and decency have fallen on deaf ears. Killer cops go free. Black Americans continue to be murdered by police. New cops continue to be trained in the use of excessive force. Compassionate cops are weeded out of the training programs and the aggressive and insensitive cops get the badge. This vetting process is deliberate. And there is still, so far, no mass movement by the police themselves to change their own culture. Instead, "the code of silence" and unquestioning loyalty to bad cops makes a mockery of the notion of the "good cop." By far and away, the majority of cops are not vocal activists for reforming the toxic aspects of their culture, making the majority complicit. Some are activists, and their efforts need commending, but the majority have not yet taken on the responsibility to fight for change.
When you have a police culture that refuses to change, doesn't care to change, says nothing is wrong, justifies murder, stays silent, talks with vague platitudes and yet goes on as before, eventually that injustice will lead to an escalation of injustice.
Those cops didn't deserve to die. Neither did Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Timir Rice or the hundreds of other Black Americans who have been murdered by police in recent years. It's one tragedy after the other, and it's only going to get worse unless we are willing to address the root cause of this violence: systemic police brutality.
In the same way bombing foreign countries year after year makes America less safe and creates more terrorists who hate us, unjustly killing US citizens year after year with no accountability will eventually make police less safe as a group as well.
Some will equate understanding the rage of the Dallas shooter as sympathy, but a failure to understand the cause will only ensure the violence will continue. I abhor violence in all its forms, whether directed at citizens or cops. It is simply not a solution to our problems, whether deployed by the state, our military, or private citizens.
The solution to stopping terrorism abroad is the same solution to stopping terrorism domestically (whether by the state or by citizens), as Noam Chomsky says, "Stop participating in it."
Stop bombing people and invading foreign countries and we'll start to have fewer terrorists. Stop unjustly killing US citizens year after year and we won't have people snapping with so much boiled-over rage that they finally succumb to the same level and philosophy as their enemies: using guns to murder innocent people.
Take action resources:
15 Things Your City Can Do Right Now to End Police Brutality
Police Brutality Action Kit
#Handsup, Don't Shoot: 6 Demands to End Police Brutality
A Path to End Racism
8 Ways to Defend Against Terror Nonviolently
13 Point Human Rights-Based Revolutionary Agenda