Today, a violent man shot his girlfriend in an act of domestic violence, murdered two police officers, and took his own life.
Today, and every day, racism and all forms of institutionalized oppression pervasively and negatively impact the lives of people across our nation, manifested in countless ways. Excessive use of police force and police brutality exist, too frequently against black and brown people.
Both of these things are true. Both of these things are awful. One does not make the other any less true or awful. Murderous violence is not the aim or mission of the important and necessary movements for social change and police reform in our country. The angry rhetoric of an obviously deeply disturbed person with a history of violence does not stand for the movement. Saying “they took one of ours, I’ll take two of theirs” does not represent the calls for social justice in our nation. An isolated incident, awful as it may be, does not in any way negate the realness of racism.
There is an endless cycle of violence in our country. This violence is both the effect and the fuel of institutionalized oppression. Systems of oppression hurt everyone. There is no justification for cold blooded killing. Polarizing rhetoric and actions will not solve our problems, and most of us who seek progress for our society are deeply aware of that. It is possible, and necessary, to simultaneously deeply mourn the death of two law enforcement officers while calling for accountability and reform for all law enforcement in our country to best serve the needs of and allow for the fundamental human rights of all people.
Two officers died tonight. A violent man used the movement as an excuse for his violence, hid behind the bravery of words and actions that so many thousands of people have given life to over the past few months, tarnishing the call for a better, less violent society with his individual, reprehensible actions. Reactions that suggest that this incident negates the realness of what is going on in this country right now not only tarnish the true nature of this social movement, but also do a grave disservice to the memory of these officers, who died protecting their community. Should we not all endeavor to seek out, through critical dialogue, reform, and continuous calls for action, the truest realization of justice and protection in our communities?