Strike back against the ugliness

Thursday, July 14, 2016 1:02 PM

What an irony that our readers got their July 8 Times with the article about the award for the Bayfield Marshal's Office at the same time they were getting news of the sniper killing of five police officers in Dallas.

Those killings, on top of two killings of black men by police last week, force an exercise in holding two conflicting ideas in our heads at the same time, acknowledging that there is truth in both.

Ever since Ferguson, Missouri, and other police killings of armed and unarmed black men, the message has been that for black males, a misdemeanor infraction, including driving while black, is occasion for summary execution. Even before Ferguson, a black man who was in a WalMart buying a gun was killed for exercising his Second Amendment rights. I never heard anything from the National Rifle Association about that one.

Black men have been killed for running from police. It seems they have good reason to run from the police, even if they've done nothing wrong.

There's no way of knowing how many of these killings happened before the age of cellphone videos everywhere, now posted in real time on the internet.

I raised a white son. As he entered the teen years, I never felt a need to have "the talk" with him that black parents apparently have with their sons, about how to respond in encounters with law enforcement, to avoid getting killed.

That being said, there's the other side. Being a cop is hard, dangerous, often thankless work. They encounter people at their worst. They stop a weaving vehicle at 2:30 a.m. Is that the driver that has a gun in hand to shoot them in the face as they approach the car? Is this domestic violence call the one where the cop gets shot? And for all that, the pay isn't great.

Even in Bayfield, these are concerns. These cops are our neighbors. Their kids go to school with our kids. I never wanted to be a cop (or a teacher). But if someone is threatening me on the street or trying to force their way into my house, I hope a cop will come ASAP. I thank all the cops who really did go into (and stay in) law enforcement to serve and protect.

What if we get to where no one wants to be a cop? Do we all just pack heat all the time, and if we don't like how someone is driving or something someone says, we take care of it ourselves? That's not the America I want.

The Dallas police killings follow the common thread with the Orlando night club killings, the killing of nine black church members in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015, and so many others - the angry, mentally unstable male with lots of guns.

So what do we as individuals do as we watch in growing despair? Strike back by treating other people with politeness, fairness and respect, maybe even kindness. That's the America I want.