Editorial: Black lives and blue lives matter
Recent shootings of black men by police in Louisiana and Minnesota, followed by the ambush of police officers in Dallas, have once again shown that our nation too often becomes binary.
If you’re for something, you must be against something else. If you’re concerned about police treatment of African-Americans, you may be dismissed as anti-cop. If you stand for police, you may face accusations of racism.
Too many political and media figures fuel that false dichotomy. We must reject such messages of division.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings spoke directly to this point at an interfaith vigil on Friday, the day after his city was rocked by the massacre of dedicated public servants. While honoring the slain officers, he also acknowledged other events challenging our nation.
“We will not shy away from the very real fact that we as a city, as a state, as a nation are struggling with racial issues. They continue to divide us. Yes, it’s that word race, and we’ve got to attack it head on,” Rawlings said.
"The question is, can we as citizens speak against the actions of a relatively few officers who blemish the reputation of their high calling, and at the same time support and defend the 99 percent of officers who do their job professionally, honestly and bravely? This is the men and women that were shot last night. I think we can and I think we must,” he said.
“Can we as a community truly and deeply understand the pain that racial discrimination and the greatest sin in America, slavery, has created through history? Can we understand that, yet accept God’s grace and forgiveness and put yesterday’s battles aside to address and build a city and a country that Dr. King dreamt of? Can we do that? Can we do it by being honest about today’s shortcomings and building a society that truly gives all citizens what we all love, the opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? I think we can.”
Dallas was a living embodiment of those sentiments on Thursday night. Citizens concerned about the treatment of African-Americans at the hands of some police officers engaged in a peaceful protest; Dallas police officers were on hand to ensure that the protesters were able to assemble peacefully and make their point.
It appears that one man dishonored the protesters by attacking the officers.
The protesters and the police officers were not pitted against each other, and we are not called to oppose one to support the other. We can support both.
We acknowledge that in many communities, African-Americans feel that they are unfairly targeted by police, at the risk of their lives. We also acknowledge that the vast majority of police officers are people who risk their lives each day to protect the public, with no concern to race or ethnicity. Too often, those courageous, dedicated officers are unfairly tainted by the actions of others.
As we mourn what has happened in Louisiana, Minnesota, Dallas and too many other communities, let’s listen to the voices of unity – such as Rawlings – and put aside the voices of division.