Last night a team of snipers murdered five Dallas police officers, and wounded six others and a civilian, at a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest. (More)

“We are being very careful”

The New York TimesPatrick McGee, Manny Fernandez, and Jonah Engel Bromwich report:

Five Dallas police officers were killed and six others were wounded by snipers on Thursday night during a demonstration protesting shootings by officers in Minnesota and Louisiana this week, the Dallas police said.

The police believe four suspects coordinated the attack with rifles, Police Chief David O. Brown said, and positioned themselves in triangulated locations near the end of the route the protesters planned to take. The police had three people in custody and were negotiating in the early-morning hours with a fourth, who was in a garage in downtown Dallas at El Centro, a community college.

That suspect had exchanged gunfire with the police and was being uncooperative in talks, Chief Brown said at a news conference in the lobby of City Hall.

The suspect “has told our negotiators that the end is coming and he’s going to hurt and kill more of us, meaning law enforcement, and that there are bombs all over the place in this garage and downtown,” Chief Brown said.

“We are being very careful in our tactics so that we don’t injure or put any of our officers in harm’s way, including the citizens of Dallas, as we negotiate further,” he added.

There are plenty of other stories about the event, but I found none that had any further details about the shooters or their motivations.

“As a nation, we can and must do better”

Prior to the carnage in Dallas, President Obama posted a Facebook message on this week’s killings of black suspects by police officers in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis:

All Americans should be deeply troubled by the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. We’ve seen such tragedies far too many times, and our hearts go out to the families and communities who’ve suffered such a painful loss.

Although I am constrained in commenting on the particular facts of these cases, I am encouraged that the U.S. Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation in Baton Rouge, and I have full confidence in their professionalism and their ability to conduct a thoughtful, thorough, and fair inquiry.

But regardless of the outcome of such investigations, what’s clear is that these fatal shootings are not isolated incidents. They are symptomatic of the broader challenges within our criminal justice system, the racial disparities that appear across the system year after year, and the resulting lack of trust that exists between law enforcement and too many of the communities they serve.

To admit we’ve got a serious problem in no way contradicts our respect and appreciation for the vast majority of police officers who put their lives on the line to protect us every single day. It is to say that, as a nation, we can and must do better to institute the best practices that reduce the appearance or reality of racial bias in law enforcement.

The president also outlined his 21st Century Task Force on Policing, set up two years ago to bring together activists and community leaders, and law enforcement experts to examine how to reduce police violence and better serve communities.

“We need to rebuild that trust”

Hillary Clinton commented yesterday on the Baton Rouge shooting:

The death of Alton Sterling is a tragedy, and my prayers are with his family, including his five children. From Staten Island to Baltimore, Ferguson to Baton Rouge, too many African American families mourn the loss of a loved one from a police-involved incident. Something is profoundly wrong when so many Americans have reason to believe that our country doesn’t consider them as precious as others because of the color of their skin.

I am glad the Department of Justice has agreed to a full and thorough review of this shooting. Incidents like this one have undermined the trust between police departments and the communities they serve. We need to rebuild that trust. We need to ensure justice is served. That begins with common sense reforms like ending racial profiling, providing better training on de-escalation and implicit bias, and supporting municipalities that refer the investigation and prosecution of police-involved deaths to independent bodies. All over America, there are police officers demonstrating how to protect the public without resorting to unnecessary force. We need to learn from and build on those examples.

Progress is possible if we stand together and never waver in our fight to secure the future that every American deserves.

She also tweeted in response to the shooting in Minneapolis:

“Looks like we are all going to retreat back to our trenches”

I hope the investigation in Dallas reveals that the snipers had no connection to the Black Lives Matter movement. That won’t stop white supremacists like Matthew Vadum – who hopes anti-Trump protesters will be shot – from branding Black Lives Matter protesters as terrorists. There’s no hope for Vadum.

But discovering that the Dallas snipers had no connection to Black Lives Matter might prevent the ugliness predicted by this reader at Patterico’s Pontifications:

In the aftermath of the Walter Scott shooting by an apparently crooked cop last year, a lot of us law-and-order right-wingers were forced the confront the fact that sometimes the Black Lives Matter crew is correct in pointing out that poorly-trained and/or dishonest police are a menace to people everywhere, especially in minority communities. The shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana, though still far from being fully investigated and accurately reported, served to put us on alert that perhaps the cops don’t always deserve the benefit of the doubt. The assassination of cops in Dallas tonight, however, is the worst thing that could have happened to the BLM crowd. Not only does it take away from what should have been a sharp focus on Minnesota and Louisiana, but there’s no doubt that some of the more ugly and rabid elements of BLM are going to have their say and that it won’t be pretty. Looks like we are all going to retreat back to our trenches and look to start slugging it out again.

This wouldn’t be the first time agents provocateur have used violence to discredit a peaceful protest movement. But we shouldn’t jump to that conclusion, just as we shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that the snipers were fringe elements of the Black Lives Matter movement. We simply don’t know yet.

In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers go out to the families the five Dallas police officers who were killed last night … and to the families who have lost loved ones to police violence.


UPDATE: In a news conference just before 9am ET, the Dallas police chief confirmed that the suspect with whom they were negotiating has been killed. The negotiations had gone on for several hours, and the suspect turned violent. He was in a barricaded position, so police put a bomb on a robot, rolled it into the room, and detonated it. The explosion killed the suspect.

The police chief described several statements made by the suspect during those negotiations. The statements don’t fit the other facts developed so far and, as an MSNBC reporter put it, we should take those statements “not just with a grain of salt but with the entire shaker.”

Simply … it’s still too early to know who the sniper(s) were or why he/they chose to ambush and murder cops during a peaceful protest.


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Good day and good nuts