Friday, July 8, 2016

My inital thoughts on the attack in Dallas.

Officers take cover during the attack. The Dallas Morning News. 

As you are probably aware there was a mass shooting/terrorist attack targeting police officers in Dallas, Texas. The attack occurred at an otherwise peaceful Black Lives Matter protest which was focused on the recent police shootings. Four Dallas police officers and one DART officer was killed in the massacre and several other ones were injured. I'm not going to recap much more then this, the Washington Post has an excellent article for that which is up to date as of this writing. British newspaper The Guardian also has live updates.

Here's my reaction to the attack. I am going to try and avoid baseless speculation but I do want to talk about what I noticed and think is important in this case. Though I hate using the listicle format, I think it is for the best:

1. At least one of the suspects seems to have been motivated in part by hate. The police chief said during a press conference that the man was upset about Black Lives Matter and wanted to kill white people in general and white cops specifically. If this pans out then this is the Dylann Roof shooting in reverse. I guess it is possible it was a white guy shooting white cops but it seems unlikely. 

2. It is very unclear who was involved in this attack and how many people were participating in it. One suspect is dead and three more are in custody. I don't know if all of those people were shooters. All I know for sure is that there was at least one. For what it is worth, the press conference made it sound like the shooter that was killed claimed that he acted alone.  

3. We can't rule out this being a traditional terrorist attack. Though the attack was racial motivated, there is a possibility that this was related to ISIS. I only mention this because ISIS has specifically called for targeting police officers and their agents have done so, most recently in a double homicide in France. I don't think it is likely, but don't discount it yet. 

4. It seems like this was a "professional" attack. I saw video of a suspect shooting a cop and he looked like he knew what he was doing. Also, if the reports of attackers using multiple positions to attack and triangulate on the cops then this was certainly a fairly sophisticated attack. I am guessing the attackers had some kind of military or paramilitary training. My guess is one or more of the attackers was in the military at some point. 

5. I also don't think that this attack was a spur of the moment thing. Though the suspect allegedly said that he was angry about recent police killing, this isn't the kind of attack you pull off in a day. This was planned and if the rumors about multiple shooters is true, it is extremely unlikely that they all just randomly decided to attack this quickly. It is possible that this was a planned attack that was moved up because of recent events, but that's as far as I will go. 

6. The suspect that died was killed by a robot of all things. The Dallas Police did not want to deploy police officers to engage the suspect because of the poor tactical situation. So they used some kind of bomb and attached it to a bomb disposal unit and killed the suspect that way. I have never heard of such a thing before, and it's extraordinary to say the least. 

7. Once the shock wears off and the suspects motives become more clear expect this to be politicized massively. The attack fits the narrative that police officers have been saying since Ferguson. They are being targeted for attack and being treated poorly. And both parties and all presidential candidates will make this into a campaign issue. 

8. This probably will end up hurting the Black Lives Matter movement no matter what. I don't think they were involved directly but it seems that the attacker agreed with them, unless the initial reports are wrong. I think they lose a lot of sympathy from this. I will let you argue among yourselves if you think this is justified. 

9. Race relations are in the toilet these days. That much should be obvious. 

10. That being said, supposedly race relations are good in Dallas compared to other cities. One thing I have heard multiple times is that the cops in Dallas are good and that racial tensions are comparatively low. This was a peaceful protest and it sounds like it would have gone off without a hitch if it wasn't for this attack. In short,, if people were upset about bad cops, Dallas was not anywhere near the top of the list of places that should have been attacked. Not that any place deserves this...

11. There was a man who was exercising his right to carry his rifle at this protest. Police initially considered him a suspect but he ended up being cleared. The fact that he wasn't shot by the cops shows that the cops were pretty good. The guy did the right thing and immediately turned himself in, despite not doing anything wrong. From what I understand he was upset about his face and name being all over social media so I am not going to name him here. But it just goes to show that the doomsday gun control scenario of a mass shootout when someone is carrying just doesn't happen. Even in this incredibly trying situation for both the open carrier and the police. 

Finally, I have to say I followed this story all night at work. I spoke to a man, who is African American, and he seemed about as shook up as I was. Turns out that he had a lot family in Dallas and he was worried about them. I told him that I hoped they were safe and we both agreed that the world was insane. No matter what comes from this I do hope that people try and remember to judge people as individuals, not based on the color of their skin or what they do for a living. There are good and bad people in every group... 

I might revisit this story tonight but I have to admit I am exhausted and I might need some mental health time. I have a lot of friends who are cops and I am worried about them. I also think that there is a limit of what I can stand in terms of tragedy and the last month or so has been tough with the massive streak of terrorist attacks that I have covered. If there is no post tonight, that's the reason why... 

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