HOUSTON – Last night police officers in Dallas were gunned down while protecting community members exercising their right to protest peacefully. The protesters were publicly challenging the epidemic of Black men being killed by individuals wearing the same uniform as those safeguarding the peaceful protest. If the night had gone as the protesters and police planned, this would have been a demonstration of what makes our country great: a citizenry publicly proclaiming their objection to government wrongs, and public officials protecting the citizenry’s constitutional right to air their anger and disapproval. Tragically, this quintessential example of democracy was ripped apart, and the nation awoke today to learn of more shootings and more deaths.
We are reminded of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King: “Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all.” Over the past three days, the body count has risen to seven. Alton Sterling and Philando Castile—whose deaths people filled the streets of Dallas to protest—did nothing to warrant their deaths. The five Dallas police officers did nothing to warrant their deaths. Add to that the more than 50 officers killed in the line of duty and the 121 Black people killed by law enforcement earlier this year, and it’s clear that the violence is escalating. How much is enough?
We call on the mayors of Texas cities to meet this crisis head on: Bring together the heads of law enforcement agencies committed to protect and serve, the leaders of organizations who fight for equality and justice, and local activists who work daily to defend vulnerable communities across this state. The time is now for a deliberate and substantive dialogue aimed at building trust and solidarity among all Texans. We must work together to ensure the senseless violence the nation witnessed this week—and over the past year—is met with reason, honest reflection and action. We cannot wait a moment longer to start this journey.