Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

UPDATED: Very few words right now

There are almost no words for the heartbreaking police killing of Minnesota's Philando Castile -- or, now, the senseless murder of five Dallas law-enforcement officers.

UPDATE: If yesterday was emotionally draining and heartbreaking, multiply that, not by 5, but by 1000 this morning. The lone sniper who cowardly murdered five Dallas law-enforcement officers and wounded a half-dozen others as well as one or two Black Lives Matters protesters committed a dastardly and atrocious crime against all American society. He was not making any kind of political statement, nor did he speak for the thousands of peaceful protesters who took to the streets last night. He was just a violent psychopath lashing out with a gun, America's weapon of mass destruction.

Before the smoke had even cleared Elm Street -- yes, the exact same Elm Street where John F. Kennedy was assassinated, about 4 blocks away and nearly 53 years ago -- some people (like the headline writers for the New York Post) were declaring that America is in a "Civil War." That's as reckless as it is absurd. There is no civil war. The thousands who marched peacefully from Philadelphia's Market Street to the streets of Oakland want an America that is more just and more loving, not more hateful. And police officers want the same thing -- we saw that last night in Dallas, from the lawmen who posed with protesters before the shooting to the way that those same officers then protected marchers who'd been chanting against police misconduct seconds earlier. Those officers are heroes; the loss of their comrades is unspeakably tragic.

America is not a nation of haters, but there is a streak of hate within this country, a toxic infection that is only made worse by the presence of more firearms than there are people. That has led to an intolerable cycle of violence that arguably goes back even further than Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963 -- a road that passed through Charleston and Orlando and, yes, Baton Rouge and St. Paul,  before it curved all the way back around to Elm Street again. How we respond to these tragedies will determine when we can make it stop...or even if we can make it stop.

Dr. Martin Luther King wrote amid the urban bloodshed of the 1960s: "Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.... Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.'' Remember his words today, and look for the love that will finally break our circle of violence.

Blogger's note: More on these topics when I return to work on Sunday.

ORIGINAL POST: I was already emotionally drained from writing yesterday about the killing of Alton Sterling. Then I got home from work, just before midnight -- and made this mistake of looking at my Twitter. A popular columnist on social-justice issues said there was a NEW video out of Minnesota -- so horrific and so surreal he was praying that somehow it wasn't real. Indeed, when I looked at it for the first couple of minutes, I was actually convinced it was a hoax.

A woman, broadcasting on Facebook Live, next to a boyfriend in a blood-soaked shirt, angrily yet remarkably calming relating how a cop had just shot the man; then, a uniformed officer appears on the screen, pointing his service revolver into the car. Then, a half-dozen police cars arrived, the woman -- a remarkably brave Diamond Reynolds and her 4-year-old daughter -- are pulled from their vehicle, and that is the shocking moment when you realize that, yes, this is very, very real. The man, Philando Castile, later died of his wounds. He would have turned 33 tomorrow.

Published