Over the course of merely three short days, two African American men were killed by police officers, which subsequently led to the deaths of five policemen at a Dallas protest against police violence inspired by the initial shootings. Seven different lives lost, and all undeserving of their sudden deaths.
On the evening of Tuesday, July 5, local police killed 37-year-old Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Sterling was selling CDs and DVDs outside of a convenience store as he regularly did when he was forcefully wrestled to the ground by two police officers and was eventually shot to death.
The officers were responding to a 911 call made because of a reportedly armed man, yet the convenience store’s owner and acquaintance of Sterling, Abdullah Muflahi, stated that he was unaware of any incident that evening that would have prompted calling 911. The graphic incident was recorded by a bystander and can be viewed online.
Shortly after the news of Sterling’s death broke, it came out that he had some prior encounters with law enforcement in the past, but no evidence has been revealed of the two cops responsible for his death being aware of his record at the time of the incident.
The very next day, police also killed 32-year-old Philando Castile, a Minnesota man of Falcon Heights. Castile was pulled over for a burnt out tail light on his car right before he was fatally shot by an officer.
Castile informed the officer that he was a licensed gun carrier as he was reaching for his wallet to present his ID, which resulted in the cop shooting as his girlfriend and her daughter sat in the car with him and witnessed it happen. This incident was also captured on video, as Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds, began streaming on Facebook Live immediately following the shooting of her boyfriend. The original video has since been removed from Facebook, but clips from it can still be found online.
The following evening, a peaceful protest in Dallas by Black Lives Matter advocates honoring the two men killed by police turned deadly after a lone sniper shot and killed five officers on duty at the event. Approximately twelve officers were shot and other officers and at least one civilian were injured, while some remain in serious condition. The assassin was identified as 25-year-old Micah Xavier Johnson of Mesquite, Texas. He was a veteran who had served in Afghanistan.
The incident was a premeditated, hatefully inspired attack on police officers in response to the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. The Dallas shooting has been ruled as the deadliest attack on U.S. law enforcement since 9/11, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
CNN recently released short profiles in remembrance of each of the victims, providing details about each of their lives and remarks people have made about them since their deaths.
Edmund Jordan, the attorney representing the Sterling family, stated that Alton Sterling was “a respected man” who was “beloved in the community,” according to CNN. Philando Castile worked as a school nutrition supervisor, and a colleague stated remembering him as a “gentle laid back sweetheart,” beloved by his students and coworkers.
One of the five cops shot and killed at the Dallas protest was 43-year-old Brent Thompson. Thompson was a Rapid Transit Officer in the Dallas area and had served on the force for approximately seven years. He had been married just two weeks before his death.
Another was 32-year-old Dallas police officer Patrick Zamarripa. Zamarripa was a U.S. Navy veteran and was a father to two children.
The next, 40-year-old Dallas police officer Michael Krol. One of Krol’s family members remarked that it was his “lifelong dream” to be a police officer, according to CNN.
Lorne Ahrens, another victim of the Dallas ambush, was a 48-year-old Dallas police officer. CNN reported that a former colleague of Ahrens stated, “He was the kind of guy that it made you happy when you got to work and saw he would be working the shift with you. You could count on him to do the right thing, the right way.”
Last of the five cops killed in the Dallas attack was 55-year-old Michael Smith. Smith was a police officer who had worked for the Dallas Police Department since ‘89.
“…all of us as Americans should be troubled by the news. These are not isolated incidents. They are symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system,” stated President Obama at a press conference at the NATO Summit in Warsaw, Poland, regarding the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
The following day, President Obama spoke again in Warsaw about the Dallas incident, calling it a “vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement.” He also stated, “Today is a wrenching reminder of the sacrifices that they make for us.”
These incidents combined have since sparked massive nationwide conversation about the blatant issue of police brutality in the U.S. and a debate over how prevalent racial profiling is within our criminal justice system. Black Lives Matter advocates are speaking out about the importance of their cause now more than ever.