Two fatal police shootings last week of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota. A sniper attack that killed five Dallas officers and wounded seven by a black Army reservist who said he wanted to kill white people, especially police officers. Other attacks on police in Missouri and Tennessee.
Are we headed toward a war between African-Americans and the police, as occurred a la the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army decades ago? If so, some painful facts.
l. Let’s not equivocate: America is divided by race. Eloquent statements by President Barack Obama in sympathy with the police can’t hide the fissures in our society that neither he nor any single politician seems able to mend.
2. Video has changed policing. A white officer in South Carolina was caught on cellphone video fatally shooting a fleeing and unarmed black man. In NYC, surveillance video showed an off-duty cop shooting an enraged motorist who appeared at his car window. Video appears to contradict the officers’ accounts.
3. Difficult as it may be for police union officials to accept, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “talk” to his biracial son about how to act when stopped by police resonates. Yes, white parents give similar warnings, but police treat young black males differently. How many whites are stopped for minor traffic infractions like a broken taillight? In Texas, Sandra Bland was stopped for a traffic violation. She was found hanged in her cell.
4. Many media accounts are distorted. Add to this media outlets that ramp up police-black confrontations according to their political whim.
5. There’s no help from Washington. Two years after Eric Garner’s “chokehold” death in Staten Island by cop Daniel Pantaleo, the case is unresolved. A state grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo, and the Justice Department has refused to indict or dismiss its civil rights case against him.
6. Our gun culture is supposedly protected by the Second Amendment. It was written more than 200 years ago before there was an assault weapon.
Meanwhile, blacks in some poor neighborhoods continue to shoot each other with depressingly high regularity. Victims and witnesses often refuse to cooperate with authorities. In Brooklyn Sunday, police shot a black man who they said was waving a 9-mm handgun. And on and on.