The Fire This Time

Last Thursday, the grainy video showed a gunman creep around a pillar as he stalked one law enforcement officer, getting within a foot before discharging his weapon. More low quality footage showed an officer pressing the fight against an assailant only to find himself woefully outgunned.

Experts were able to discern the shooter or shooters were heavily armed with a military style assault rifle, plenty of ammunition and body armor that made it possible to stand toe-to-toe with peace officers who were likely armed only with handguns and thin bulletproof vests under their uniforms. These men in blue charged toward a high caliber cyclic rate that spelled doom for five of their colleagues and with no idea of precisely where the shots were coming from and from how many people.

Very early on, open carry proponent Mark Hughes exercised his second amendment right by participating in the Black Lives Matter protest with what may have been an AR-15 slung over his shoulder. His face was immediately circulated across the Internet as the primary suspect as police continued to charge into harm’s way. The gentleman in question immediately surrender himself to DPD and was released.

While many of us speak fiery and passionately about our allegiance to the legacies of the Deacons of Defense, Malcolm X and the Black Panther Party, most Black mainstream folks ain’t gonna, as the saying goes, ‘kill nothing or let nothing die.’

But what happens when individuals, who otherwise may have been content with eking out a living in a world made toxic to them and their offspring, are pushed over the edge by yet another video of law enforcement gunning down an innocent Black person?

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(Photo Credit: USA Today)

As has been illustrated in the Freddie Gray case and the Tamir Rice case, the odds of officers ever facing real justice are very slim.

Warning – Poem by Langston Hughes

Negroes, Sweet and docile, Meek, humble and kind: Beware the day they change their mind! Wind In the cotton fields, Gentle Breeze: Beware the hour It uproots trees!

Even after authorities named Micah Xavier Johnson as the shooter, photos of him wearing a traditional African dashiki were circulating all over.

Forgetting the anomalies that were H. Rap Brown’s unloading a clip at Atlanta Police officers and his subsequent conviction for murder in 2002, Christopher Dorner’s killing spree and the gunfights waged between Black Panthers and the police in the volatile ’60s, modern, politically correct and largely patriotic Black sensibilities make the very idea of a racially-radicalized Black person becoming angry enough to embark on a shooting spree seem incredibly far-fetched.

But the current environment of racial animus in America has been fed by video after video of people of African descent being needlessly shot down by law enforcement. It has not only helped fuel the flames of national debate within the greater societal sphere, but it has also seemed to inflame those who wish to exact revenge in order to force a national discourse.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown, a man whose son was killed after fatally shooting a police officer, told reporters that Johnson informed negotiators that the recent deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling were what pushed him over the edge to violence.

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(Photo Credit: USA Today)

After he was killed by a bomb which was delivered by robot, authorities said he scribbled the letters R and B using his own blood and speculated that he was attempting to write RBG, an acronym for Red, Black and Green. Widely regarded as the flag of Pan Africanism, each color in itself is symbolic of various portions of the African Diaspora – red is for the blood of the people, black is for the color of the people and green is for the land of the people.

Authorities are now saying that three individuals arrested as the gun battle took place, two in Oak Cliff spotted driving away from the downtown area and one female taken into custody at the scene, had nothing to do with the shooting and that it is a lone gunman scenario.

Naturally, the overarching distrust that many Americans have for authority figures across all branches of government has elicited many conspiratorial musings. With the heart-breaking manner in which the nation saw Philando Castile die on social media, just a day after watching Alton Sterling get pinned down and executed by Baton Rouge Police officers, is it not only possible, but plausible that someone would decide to take matters into their own hands?

For many, it wasn’t just a plausibility but an eventuality. Especially considering the lack of movement on the issue of police brutality from the federal government, the disingenuous and predictable debate on whether victims of police violence were somehow complicit in their own demise, and the fact that high caliber assault weapons are readily available throughout much of the United States – for less than $1,500 in some cases.

Staring down the reality that this may have been a lone person who is fed up with abusive business as usual means we must also come to grips with the likelihood that that there may be others just like him.

And that’s the scariest part about the whole thing. Because once the bullets start flying in both directions, moderation will be thrown to the wind in pursuit of “security”. When violence by a disenfranchised group is seen as a strategic necessity, it is the moderates who suffer at the hands of a frightened mainstream still struggling with its own legacy of racism and bigotry.

Following the shootings of police officers in Dallas, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where Alton Sterling was gunned down, three Baton Rouge, Louisiana police officers were killed by an assailant who reportedly used an assault rifle.

A fourth officer is currently recovering from non-life threatening injuries.The shooter is being identified as 29-year-old decorated U.S. Marine and Iraq War veteran Gavin Long. Reports say he drove from his home in Kansas City, Missouri to Baton Rouge to kill police officers.

Like Micah X. Johnson, there were attempts by cable news stations to place the blame for this latest shootings on Black Lives Matters, Black Nationalists and other like-minded organizations.

If anything happens with me because I’m an alpha male, I stand up, I stand firm and I stand for mine til the end, til the last day in this flesh, but I’m not the flesh, I’m not the body, I have a body but I just want to let yall know, don’t affiliate me with nothing. I’m affiliated with the spirit of justice, nothing else.

For the second time in little more than a week, a fed up Black man has allegedly done what very few before him have, hunt down and execute agents of law enforcement.  As was illustrated with today’s acquittal in Baltimore of Lt. Brian Rice in the Freddie Gray case, there remains no real push to punish police for treating lives callously.

Much concern for putting out these fires has resulted in all sorts of oddball reactions. The Cleveland Police Department is even asking that the state of Ohio suspend its open carry law for the Republican National Convention. This is reactionary, fear-based and unprecedented.

The recent narrative around the most recent alleged cop killer is that he was an angry black man and something of an outcast. Indeed, lots of discussion about who he was and very little talk about his partial catalyst being the result of America’s continued blatant disregard for Black lives, Brown lives, Red lives, and the lives of those suffering through multi-generational poverty on a state and local scale.