Friday Reads: What’s Going On?

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Another day, another killing spree.

We’re living in the United States of Mass Murder. Where have all the anger and violence come from?  How has the second amendment turned from the ability of states to raise and arm a militia to a means of arming insurgents and malcontents?   It’s been suggested we need a huge wall around this country.  I would like to suggest that we need a huge mirror so that we can examine ourselves and figure out how we came to this.  There can be no peace or no justice through violence.  It makes no difference if it’s violence against the state or against the people.  As one great president said, a house divided against itself cannot stand.

The violence in Dallas last night is the American Nightmare. Anger took aim at a police force that is actually well known for supporting Black Lives Matter and took its role of protecting protesters seriously. The voices of angry men in this country, however, generally wind up in some expression of gun violence.  Skipping straight from the first amendment to some warped idea of the second is not how any of this is supposed to work.

Four Dallas police officers and a DART officer were shot and killed in a coordinated sniper attack that followed a Thursday night protest.

Seven other officers and two civilians were wounded after the peaceful demonstration against recent shootings of black men by police in Louisiana and Minnesota.

The shooter, who may have had accomplices, suggested the attack was racially motivated by revenge.

Perched in a parking garage at El Centro College, the man exchanged gunfire with officers early Friday morning before being killed by a robot-planted bomb.

The man was identified by our colleagues at KXAS-TV (NBC5) as Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, of Mesquite. A law enforcement official told CNN that Johnson had no criminal record or known ties to terrorism.

On Friday morning, Mesquite officers and crime scene investigators from Dallas were at Johnson’s home on Helen Lane.

Other people of interest were detained for questioning. At a news conference at 7:30 a.m., city officials declined to discuss details about the suspects in custody.

“Now is not the right time,” Mayor Mike Rawlings said.

A commander in the Dallas Police Department, however, described the shooting as a “conspiracy.” He said several people were involved in the planning, logistics and execution of the coordinated attack. He declined to elaborate and requested anonymity.

Police Chief David Brown urged Dallas to get behind its police department in the days to come.

“We don’t feel much support most days,” he said. “Let’s not make today most days.”

The shooting was the deadliest day for law officers since Sept. 11, 2001, when 72 officers died, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown said snipers with rifles shot 12 officers and two bystanders from elevated positions about 9 p.m.

At 1:42 a.m. Friday, the Dallas Police Association tweeted that a fifth officer had died.

“We’re hurting, our profession is hurting,” Brown told reporters at the news conference. “There are no words to describe the atrocity that occurred to our city. All I know is that this must stop, this divisiveness between our police and our citizens.”

The shooter that was cornered and later killed by a suicide bomber robot has been identified.  Every time killings happen the most difficult thing to do is to search out the face of the killer.  It’s part of our need to know why this happened.  The images (19)problem is that the whys tell us less than than the hows.  The hows tell us that this happens frequently here and that none of us are safe from people seeking to do bad who have access to weapons that can really do bad.

Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, has been identified as one of the suspected gunmen in an ambush Thursday that left five Dallas law enforcement officers dead and seven more officers injured, multiple law enforcement sources told ABC News.

Johnson, who died in the incident, served as an Army reservist until April 2015, defense officials said. He was trained and served in the Army Reserve as a carpentry and masonry specialist, they said.

Police said he told hostage negotiators that he was angry about recent fatal shootings of black men by police elsewhere in the United States and that he wanted to kill white people, especially police officers.

The gunman “expressed anger for Black Lives Matter” and told a hostage negotiator he “wanted to kill [police] officers,” Dallas Police Chief David Brown said today.

Police spent hours negotiating with Johnson before he was killed by an explosive strapped to a police robot.

“We’re hurting,” Brown said. “Our profession is hurting. Dallas officers are hurting. We are heartbroken. There are no words to describe the atrocity that occurred to our city.”

Three other suspects — two men and one woman — have been detained by police, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said. Officials said earlier that at least two gunmen were involved.

“I can tell you they’re being pretty tight-lipped at this point,” Rawlings said of the trio.

There is a lot to be learned from the way the two major party presidential candidates framed their take on the event.  First, Hillary Clinton who focuses on the lives lost.

Hillary Clinton’s planned rally with Vice President Joe Biden in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on Friday has been postponed following the shootings in Dallas on Thursday night, the presumptive Democratic nominee’s campaign announced.

“I mourn for the officers shot while doing their sacred duty to protect peaceful protesters, for their families & all who serve with them,” Clinton tweeted after the postponement was announced.

Trump referred to this as an “attack on our country” which is hard to figure out given the shooter basically is a citizen and Army reservist who did tours in Afghanistan.  That probably is the least useful or correct characterization I’ve seen to date.Vietnam_protest_poster_5

“It is a coordinated, premeditated assault on the men and women who keep us safe,” the presumptive GOP presidential nominee said.

The statement went on to send support and prayers to the “brave police officers and first responders who risk their lives to protect us every day.”

As usual,the message is to let the surviving family members eat imaginary support and very worthless prayers.  None of his words were helpful or healing.

President Obama took to a microphone yet another time to mourn large numbers of American dead who were killed working and living on the streets of their own city.  He also spoke directly of the Black Lives Matter movement and its utter frustration with the many instances where police kill unarmed black men unprovoked.

President Obama said Thursday he shares the “anger, frustration, and grief that so many Americans are feeling” about this week’s police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota.

“All Americans should be deeply troubled by the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota,” Obama wrote in a Facebook post. “We’ve seen such tragedies far too many times.”

Obama’s first reaction to the shootings was published on the social media site while he was flying on Air Force One to a NATO summit in Poland.

Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, was pinned down by two white police officers and shot dead on Tuesday in Baton Rouge, La. Castile, 32 and also black, was fatally shot by an officer during a traffic stop on Wednesday.

Parts of both incidents were caught on video, but Obama did not say if has viewed the footage.

He declined to comment on the specifics of both cases, but he praised the Justice Department’s decision to investigate the Louisiana shooting. It is also weighing a probe of the Minnesota incident.

The twin shootings stirred nationwide anger about police violence against black men.

Obama has been forced to confront a string of deaths in cities such as Ferguson, Mo., Baltimore and New York City. And his White House has often struggled to mend frayed ties between police departments and the communities they serve.

“Regardless of the outcome of such investigations, what’s clear is that these fatal shootings are not isolated incidents,” Obama wrote. He said they are a result of distrust based on racial disparities between police and urban communities.

The president urged law enforcement agencies to adopt the recommendations of a White House task force designed to close that divide.

war-is-not-healthy1Not all Americans are interested in healing the divide. Right wing meat puppet and former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh rose to the nation’s crisis by threatening our president.  This came in the form of a tweet that hastily went away but was captured by the many who monitor extremists.

Forrmer Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh declared “This is now war” and called for President Barack Obama to “watch out” in a Twitter post reacting to the Dallas shooting that killed five police officers and injured seven.

“This is now war. Watch out Obama. Watch out black lives matter punks. Real America is coming after you,” he wrote in the tweet, which has since been deleted.

I’d like to close this post with some words of Charles Blow who characterizes this situation as “An arms race of atrocities”.

While sitting in on CNN’s coverage of Thursday night’s events, journalist Charles Blow said all protesters want is to make sure everyone — civilian or police — goes home to their families at the end of their day.

“The protests themselves are ultimately about life,” Blow said. “The ability to live out your life and not have life unreasonably taken. Your response to this has to be about life.”

He then pointed out that it’s time to stop making it an “arms race of atrocities.”

“A lot of what I’ve seen over the last few hours have been people rushing to try to figure out ways to see if something adds to an argument or doesn’t add to an argument,” he said. “I don’t understand when you stop being human, enough to slow down and say, yes the two people who were killed, who the protests were about, had families and they are hurt, and they are angry. These people have families too.”

People need to admit that “everybody deserves to go home.”

Here’s hoping that we can get some sensible gun control at some point.  It’s incredible to me that we can go through these frequent mass shootings and not actually see any kind of policy attempt to get to the root of the problems.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

What’s going on?