On July 7, a madman attacked downtown Dallas. We have all seen the footage and heard the heartbreaking accounts of five Dallas police officers losing their lives. Tragedy from senseless violence has been part of our lives for a long time. Oklahoma City, Columbine, Orlando, Sandy Hook, and far too many more. These aren’t just places. Mentioned together they elicit a visceral reaction. They paint a tapestry of what evil looks like in our country. And yesterday, Baton Rouge.
The shootings in Dallas offer a stark dichotomy of people who feel disenfranchised. A lawful protest being protected by the police. A peaceful protest about police violence no less. A group exercising the rights given to them by our Constitution, with a law enforcement presence that ensured they had the opportunity to do so. That is how it is supposed to work. In contrast, there is someone whose actions represent the ugly and evil face of those who feel left behind.
I am white. I don’t know what it’s like to be black. I don’t know what it’s like to live being the target of racial discrimination that absolutely does exist in this country, but I understand the anger. Black lives do matter. The obvious response is that all lives matter. I spoke with a friend today trying to get my head around this. He brought some clarity. The movement is to REMIND people that black lives matter, and not to exclude others. The goal is to help bring back a disenfranchised community. To bring them back into the fold with acceptance and true equality. The acts of a single gunman served only to undermine the cause.
There are bad people in this world. Bad people are Attorneys. Bad people are doctors. Bad people are convenience store clerks. And unfortunately, there are bad Police Officers. They cannot be exempted solely because of what they are supposed to be. It must be dealt with. For more than twenty years I’ve been a criminal defense lawyer. I’ve seen the effects of a bad cop. But it is not the norm. I believe the significant majority of the officers I’ve dealt with are good people trying to protect and serve, while making a modest living. They do a dangerous job that is vitally important while receiving very little appreciation from those they protect.
Last Sunday I was at Quick Trip. In front of me was an officer getting a cup of coffee and a can of snuff. I offered to buy it for him. He politely declined, telling me that they don’t get charged for that at QT. He thanked me for the offer and I thanked him for the job he does. When I told him I was a criminal defense lawyer he looked me dead in the eye and said, “see, we can all get along.” He thanked the cashier and left. On his way out, “Thanks again, brother.” He said it TO ME.