“Shootings Further Divide a Nation Torn Over Race” Timothy Williams, Michael Wines, The New York Times, 8 July 2016

Now, in the space of three days, the killings of two black men by Louisiana and Minnesota police officers and the retaliatory murders of five Dallas officers, this time by a black Army veteran, have coalesced all those concerns into a single expression of national angst.”

Two shootings of black men by police were followed by a coordinated attack on law enforcement in Dallas. Both sides of the political debate were faced with tragedies stemming from their own fears. Since Mike Brown’s death in Ferguson, Mo., police accountability has been one of the biggest social issues facing the US. But after the shooting of police by a disgruntled black man, the divide between Americans is growing. The debate has become increasingly bitter: the New York Post’s front page read “CIVIL WAR,” the Drudge Report had a headline stating “Black Lives Kill,” and protesters in Minnesota chanted, “Kill the police.” The tension is approaching what we saw during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Even then, though, we weren’t faced with the coordinated slaying of police officer. Police departments across the country have claimed they are working to find ways to avoid conflict with minority communities. This task is made harder by the steady stream of videos depicting police brutality. The riots in the 60s, like today, often occurred after violent encounters between black people and police. A commission created by Lyndon B. Johnson found that white and black Americans have a vastly different experience, one that is “separate but unequal.” We can’t be sure if history will repeat itself, but racial tension are rising. Both black and white Americans were now more likely to think race relations are soured. After the Dallas ambush, leaders called for unity. Both major presidential candidates tweeted their support for the police in an election that has been defined by racial and ethnic tension. Members of Black Lives Matter will continue undeterred after the police shootings. Attorney General Loretta Lynch summarized the day when she said, “We must reject the easy impulses of bitterness and rancor, and embrace the difficult work — but the important work, the vital work — of finding a path forward together”.

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“Shootings Further Divide a Nation Torn Over Race” Timothy Williams, Michael Wines, The New York Times, 8 July 2016


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