I got up early this morning to rewrite my Sunday newspaper column after staying up until well past midnight last night watching events unfold in Dallas.
You see, my column was about police shootings and violence against cops, but the attack on cops in Dallas has changed the landscape.
I don’t know what to say about what happened, other than to suggest that it’s no longer appropriate to say things like #BlackLivesMatter or #BlueLivesMatter.
The only appropriate stance today is #AllLivesMatter.
Alton Sterling, a man who was shot by police officers while being held on the ground by two of them, his life mattered. Philando Castille, a lawful gun owner who was shot by police after being pulled over for a broken taillight, his life mattered.
The lives of the five cops who were murdered in Dallas last night while protecting a crowd of people engaged in protesting cops, those mattered too.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]A part of what makes all of this so tragic is that all of this is taking place in the context of a decades-long decline in American violence, including violence against cops specifically. [/mks_pullquote]
“If Philando Castile was a white man, perhaps named Terry Johnson or Bill Tucker, he would be alive today,” my colleague Mike McFeely wrote yesterday.
I have a hard time disagreeing with that statement, and I think it applies to Sterling and a lot of other black men killed by cops too. That’s unacceptable.
On the other hand, the Dallas Police are saying those five cops murdered yesterday were killed by a man who said he wanted to kill white cops. A black power group has claimed responsibility and is warning of other attacks. Black protesters appeared to celebrate and taunt law enforcement in the wake of the murders. On social media sympathizers with the #BlackLivesMatter movement called for more cop killings.
A faction of the #BlackLiveMatters movement has become radicalized, and condones violence and terror as a means to their ends. This is also unacceptable.
A part of what makes all of this so tragic is that all of this is taking place in the context of a decades-long decline in American violence, including violence against cops specifically.
The rate of nearly all types of violent crimes was down nationally in 2015 according to data collected by the FBI, and violent crime in our country has been trending downward for decades now.
According to the latest data available from the FBI, assaults against law enforcement officers have declined by 46 percent, from 16.8 assaults per 100 officers to 9 per 100 in 2014.
Line of duty deaths are down, too. Using numbers from the Officer Down Memorial Page, a comprehensive and widely respected online database of law enforcement deaths, 2013 saw the lowest number of gun-related officer deaths since the onset of the 20th century with a daily rate of 0.085 fatalities per day.
In 2015, we saw the second lowest number of gun-related officer deaths since 1900 with a rate of 0.11 deaths per day. Prior to the murders in Dallas, 2016 was seeing a similar rate as 2015.
I hope those trends aren’t reversed.
I hope we can find a way to settle our differences without violence. Because what’s happening now is dark and ugly.