On Thursday night, snipers gunned down 11 officers, killing five, while they were working a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas. According to the Dallas police chief, one suspect told a hostile negotiator that he “wanted to kill white people” because he was angry about police shootings and the Black Lives Matter movement. The chief emphasized that the suspect acted alone and was not affiliated with any movement, including Black Lives Matter.
Immediately after the massacre of the Dallas cops, former Congressman Joe Walsh (R-IL) declared war against “Black Lives Matter punks.” He deleted the tweet, but the sentiment took off.
The Drudge Report, which has millions of followers, also put up an explosive front page calling Black Lives Matter protesters killers:
This headline. Wow. pic.twitter.com/0ALYFLdC9T
— Michelle Fields (@MichelleFields) July 8, 2016
Despite the charged rhetoric, Black Lives Matter demonstrators were far from adversarial toward the Dallas police, even as they peacefully protested police shootings and racist policing. In the hours before the officers were attacked, the police force Twitter account was tweeting pictures of officers posing and smiling with demonstrators.
— Dallas Police Dept (@DallasPD) July 8, 2016
Something people should understand nationally — BLM & Dallas PD have respect for each other. DPD was protecting marchers. Snipers did this.
— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) July 8, 2016
As Buzzfeed’s Albert Samaha noted, Dallas police have a vastly improved reputation within the community. Excessive force complaints against the police force have dropped dramatically over the past few years as police leadership has emphasized de-escalation and non-lethal force to stop suspects — exactly the kind of reformed policing that Black Lives Matter calls for nationwide.
The attack on the Dallas officers is tragic. But it’s also an exceedingly rare occurrence. Despite what politicians and media pundits say, it’s actually safer than ever to be an officer. The annual number of police killed in the line of duty has been dropping since the 1970s, according to data collected by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. In 2013, a 126-year low, 31 officers were shot and killed in the line of duty. That number rose slightly in 2014, but was still below the decade average of 53 cop killings. In 2015, 42 officers were fatally shot, a 14 percent decrease from 2014.
BLM immediately denounced violence against officers in the wake of the shooting, which it also did when a mentally ill man killed two NYPD officers under cover of massive protests in 2014.