Post-Dallas massacre: Lone wolf attack or public reaction to bad police practices?

Micah Xavier Johnson, a man suspected by Dallas Police in a shooting attack and who was killed during a manhunt, is seen in an undated photo from his Facebook account. © Reuters
Following the fatal ambush in Dallas, RT discusses whether the incident was a desperate response to police abusing rights when dealing with minorities and the build up of anger towards law enforcement.

US police identified the man behind the Dallas protest shootings that left five police officers dead and 9 more injured, 2 civilians among them. The suspect, Micah Xavier Johnson, was reportedly an army reservist and spent almost a year in Afghanistan. Before being killed in a standoff with police, the shooter said he wanted to kill white people, especially cops, after the recent law enforcement shootings of African Americans.

We’ve seen this movie so many times 

Mandela Barnes, Wisconsin State Representative, believes that in order to change the situation in the country each and every American policeman should review their practices. 

RT: We've seen a number of fatalities as a result of police violence over several days now. Do you think this worrying trend is gaining momentum? 

Mandela Barnes: No, I won’t say there is growing momentum. These are two very tragic incidents. What the problem is – these police officers across the country haven’t reformed their patterns and practices. That is the scary part about it, because when they see that nothing is going to happen, if anybody can get away with something – you are going to do it. That is what happens all the time. Police officers are over exercising their badges and they are going all the other way. And it’s a very unfortunate set of circumstances. But Dallas is a completely separate situation in this. 

Police departments across the country – every mayor, every police chief – should be running the change of ways and be a leader in the way that they reform their patterns of practices. A lot of people don’t even think justice will ever be even sought for the two [incidents.]That is scary to think of, because we’ve seen this movie so many times. 

Dallas shooting might be part of anger 

The recent incident in Dallas, Texas, appears to be a part of the anger at what is perceived to be mispractice and the application of overwhelming force by US law enforcement, Justin Dargin, geopolitics scholar from the University of Oxford, told RT. 

RT: As we saw earlier, there's been angry reaction online – with some going so far as to say there's a “war on police.” Is that really what we're seeing?    

Justin Dargin: One thing that I can say is that this appears to be a part of anger at what is perceived to be mispractice, the application of overwhelming force by the police department – 100 perception of that. Then indeed, we can also tie this into the anger at the federal government. This occurred during certain standoffs that have occurred in the western states over the past several years or so. Again we have the overwhelming threat, which is considered to be looming with international terrorism, with ISIS. It is a very dynamic situation – what is happening right now in the US. But I would say we need to wait for other facts to come out before we make any type of judgment. 

RT: It now appears Dallas was a lone wolf attack. Yet when it happened, people online were quick to blame Black Lives Matter movement Why? 

JD: Of course the online community – it is known as the outrage community – so people can get online and state whatever they want, without any fear of repercussion. There is a certain segment of the US population that feels that the Black Lives Matter movement has taken things in a direction which has posed – to a certain degree, or at least fed upon – this type of outrage against certain policing practices. There’s a certain segment of this demographic in the US that believes that perhaps there should be ‘an All Lives Matter’ movement – simply for the fact that certain police practices do impact low income communities: Caucasian communities, also Latino community, and so on and so forth… That is why we see this type of criticism from this particular segment of the US population, which is directed at the Black Lives Matter movement.

No surprise Dallas suspect could be military veteran 

Gerald Horne, professor of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston said that it wouldn’t be surprising if the suspect in the recent crime in Texas was an army veteran, as according to US Department of Veterans Affairs, 20 military veterans commit suicide on a daily basis. 

RT: There is a report that the shooter in Dallas was ex-military. Could this have been due to post-traumatic stress syndrome or something like that? 

Gerald Horne: It is possible. It is very interesting to know that it was just reported that on a daily basis in the US 20 military veterans commit suicide. On a daily basis! Given such a disturbing statistic it would not be surprising at all if the suspects in this crime were military veterans. 

RT: According to other statistics, over a thousand people were killed by police across the US last year alone, and most of them are African-Americans and Hispanic. What do those figures tell you? 

GH: What it says to me is that this country has yet to grapple with the fact that slavery was the founding principle of the organizing of the USA in 1776. There has not been an honest grappling with the fact that the Civil War itself (1861-1865) was driven in no small measure by external forces – the pressure from British abolitionists and Haitian revolutionaries. Therefore, it is very difficult for the US today to deal with the fact that millions of decedents of enslaved Africans still live in this country, and yet they carry this so-called mark of skin color, which designates them as decedents of enslaved Africans, which allows the police to treat them like slaves about to launch a rebellion or revolt.

'Unaccountable'

John Fullinwider, Mothers against police brutality, told RT that about 20 percent of the people killed by the police in the US are unarmed, and about 25 percent have a documented history of mental illness. 

RT: Over a thousand people were killed by police across the US last year alone. What do you make of those figures? 

John Fullinwider: The main thing we make of those figures is that is probably the first accurate count we’ve had in 20 years. The FBI reports, which are the official reports, have reported roughly half that many shootings in the past.

The other main point about those shootings is that they are all unaccountable. In other words, you have about 20 percent of the people that the police kill here – unarmed and about 25 percent have a documented history of mental illness. So, you have situations where it is true that sometimes the police confront active shooters and kill them. But many, many times they kill unarmed people, or people who are mentally disturbed, or people that just didn’t follow their commands fast enough. 

Another major thing to remember is that these killings go completely unpunished: 99 times out of 100 in the US policemen can beat you up, kill you, and not one thing will happen to them. We have a very long history of that in Dallas, Texas… where hundreds of people have been killed over the past 40 years by the Dallas police. And we have not had one indictment of a Dallas officer in a fatal police shooting in 43 years.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.