When tragedy occurs, fear tends to run rampant, and it’s our job to keep it from dividing us as a nation. Compassion doesn’t discriminate based on race or occupation. It is possible to mourn for the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, while also mourning for the families of five Dallas police officers.
The officers who were shot and killed during a peaceful protest in Thursday night were not only murdered while in the line of duty, they were murdered while they were protecting the free speech of their fellow Americans.
It is our First Amendment right to peaceably assemble, and the people who were protesting in Dallas were exercising that right. They were protesting police brutality, and they had a good reason to do so.
The videos that have circulated this week from the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile raise serious questions about the conduct used by the officers involved. We live in a country where innocent black men are killed by police, and those officers face no charges for their actions. So, it is no wonder that when videos are released such as the ones that were released this week, people would gather together in protest.
It’s also important for us to remember not to jump to conclusions. A picture of a man named Mark Hughes was plastered all over social media last night after the Dallas Police Department named him as one of their suspects. He was seen at the protest carrying what appears to be a rifle, and although he turned his weapon over to the police as soon as the gunfire started, that didn’t stop his image from going viral as possible suspect, and he could have been severely injured as a result.
Just as not all police officers are bad, not all protestors are bad. Violence is never the answer, and it’s important for all of us to remember that anyone who would open fire at a protest is not a protester. He is not exercising his free speech and he is not searching for answers. He is only making the problem worse and creating more problems between those who are there to serve and protect, and those who are searching for justice.
Whether you’ve changed your Facebook profile picture to remind the world that you “back the blue,” or that “black lives matter,” it’s important to remember that every innocent life that is lost, is a tragedy, and the actions of one do not define the beliefs of the whole.