As hundreds of people marched in what was described as a peaceful protest in downtown Dallas, a gunman took a strategic position along the route. Numerous police officers were assigned along the route to protect the rights and the safety of the protesters. Their uniforms made them easy to single out on the crowded streets. The fact that the marchers were staging a demonstration against recent police shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana wouldn’t have deterred any of those officers from taking a bullet to defend them. They were just doing their job, as they do every time they put the uniform on. Before they left for work that day they said their usual goodbyes to their families, fully expecting to see them later and follow through on their plans for the weekend.
Yet, unknown to them, a malevolent plot was in motion to end their lives. Not because the conspirator had grievances against any one of them, but because their uniforms made them targets for someone who had become mentally twisted by a steady diet of anti-cop rhetoric that has infected our country. Five officers died, some shot in the back, and several others were wounded at the hands of one cowardly sniper whose only motivation for multiple murders was the uniforms and the skin color of their victims. He sat up in his lofty perch and picked off his targets with as much compunction as someone knocking over inanimate objects in a shooting gallery.
This level of savagery didn’t occur in a vacuum; it was systematically nurtured by hateful, agenda-driven groups, bent on using every law enforcement incident as a wedge to further divide the nation. While these anti-social groups are accusing white cops of using excessive force during confrontations with blacks, they’re refusing to even acknowledge the huge number of innocent blacks being killed by criminal blacks every day in major cities across the country. Residents of those inner cities live in a constant state of terror at the hands of heavily-armed, vicious gangsters who have become increasingly emboldened by the protection afforded them by politically correct policies. Some of those thugs have recorded videos and put them on social media where they proudly brandish an assortment of guns and taunt the public with threats.
Frankly, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that violence against cops has become the norm rather than the exception. When a gang of thugs who call themselves “Black Lives Matter” gets national publicity by parading through the streets chanting “death to pigs” and “pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon,” they have created a climate of legitimacy for those who have been taught by criminal agitators to view cops as oppressors. Moreover, when the President of the United States says he admires that abhorrent gang for being “really effective in bringing attention to problems of racial injustice,” he becomes an accomplice to the murder of police officers. Furthermore, when the leader of our nation sympathizes with those whose only goal is to demonize cops, what effect does that have on those who wear the badge and risk their lives every day to protect life and property?
A cop’s job is stressful enough without having to deal with a constant bombardment of criticism from the highest elected official in the country. Having been there myself, I know how tough it is to deal with the myriad complexities of human nature. I know what it’s like to be second-guessed by Monday morning quarterbacks every time I did my job. Having only a few seconds to make a decision, I could only sneer with disdain when I listened to my actions being dissected by those who weren’t on the scene and had days or weeks to decide if I acted properly. I know what it’s like to fight for my life when a recidivist criminal, about to be arrested again, tells me he’s not going in easily. Should I have been concerned with the condition of my prisoner at arraignment, after he had tried to take my life on the street?
This is what cops must put up with every day on the job. It’s not for the squeamish and it’s not for those who are easily offended. Although a thick skin is required, even a suit of armor is often not enough. Especially when they feel that some aberrant form of hysteria has gripped the country, making them out to be the bad guys. Nevertheless, today, and every day, they’ll put on those uniforms and patrol our streets in search of the real bad guys, while watching each other’s back and hoping for similar support from that part of the public that hasn’t been turned against them. Meanwhile, my heart is heavy today as I grieve along with the families of those officers.
Bob Weir is a former NYPD officer, long-time Flower Mound resident and former local newspaper editor.