I was once a terrorist in the BLA, but it’s not what you’re thinking. I’ll explain later.
When large scale tragedy strikes we depend on our media for information about what happened, what’s still happening, and what’s going to happen. But the media isn’t usually the source of the information we get. That’s usually some government officials at either the local, state or federal level, depending on the geographic scope of the tragedy in question. When it’s confined to a single city, especially a large metropolitan one, it’s usually the local police who give out the information that the media gives us. So when lives may be at stake, it’s important that this information be reliable. When such a tragedy struck Dallas, TX, this past Thursday, the government officials giving out the information upon which we relied was the Dallas Police Department. And they failed utterly to give us accurate information, and thus failed to keep the public safe.
Although Micah Xavier Johnson’s motivations can generally be traced back further, what happened Thursday in Dallas essentially began early Tuesday morning in Baton Rouge, LA. Police responding to a call about a black man pointing a gun at passersby and threatening them encountered Anton Sterling, a 37-year-old man who sold CDs outside a convenience store. Though Sterling did have a gun on him, at no time did he reach for it or threaten anyone with it. Still, only after pinning him down on the ground and discovering the gun on him did one police officer step forward and fire 4-6 shots into Sterling’s chest. [Warning: Contains video with graphic and disturbing footage.] Though Sterling did have a criminal record, none of that played any part in Sterling’s murder. And I do call it a murder, which is why the DOJ has been asked to investigate it. Late Wednesday night in Falcon Heights, MN, 32-year-old Philando Castile was shot to death (murdered, actually) by a police officer during a routine traffic stop. [Warning: Contains video with graphic and disturbing footage.] Castile, too, was armed but he announced this fact to the officer along with the fact that he had a permit to carry it. As he reached for his license (as requested) the officer apparently freaked out and told Castile to freeze. Castile made the fatal mistake of trying to raise his weaponless hands back up when the officer fired four shots in to him. As Castile’s girlfriend sat in the front seat next to him. And his daughter in the back seat behind him. President Obama released a statement about the two shootings which was part of the problem with what happened in Dallas according to some people with no apparent connection to reality. And various chapters of the Black Lives Matter movement organized protests in several US cities Thursday night, including Dallas, TX.
Johnson had reached his tipping point about the time he posted a long rant on a Black Panthers Mississippi Facebook page denouncing certain (not all) white people for their crimes against black people. Johnson’s own FB page “included images of a Black Power symbol and a red, black and green flag associated with the Black Liberation Army.” In September 1981 some of us Bouton Hall college dormitory friends decided to form our own terrorist organization called the Bouton Liberation Army. We would ambush people and shoot them – with water pistols. We had white t-shirts with “BLA” painted on them, and we would go around yellowing “Blahhhh…” as we shot and wetted people. It was a lot of fun. Then the other BLA went and shot two cops during a Brink’s robbery, and we decided to disband the group. But the Black Liberation Army was an influence on Johnson, and he decided he wanted to kill as many white people, white police officers in particular, as he could. (He was not as careful about that as he might have wanted to be.) He chose the Dallas BLM protest to act upon his grievances. Almost from the time he started shooting, the misinformation came out.
As the story broke I was seeing tweets saying a team of snipers, in a coordinated attack, had started shooting police officers in Dallas following the protest. The falsehood that it was more than one shooter was spread around by media even after it was finally announced that it was only one shooter. The reports also said the shooter was blaming the Black Lives Matter movement, but the truth was he was upset about the number of black men being unnecessarily shot by police officers, most of whom were white. This meme was being attributed to anonymous police sources, and it led to further speculation in the right-wing not-quite-real-media that armies of black men would be opening fire on white people everywhere, and that, of course, President Barack Obama, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the entire Black Lives Matter movement, and Private Citizen Billionaire George Soros were behind it. The inaccurate reports of casualties is understandable, but the almost immediate release of such wrong information is not. And as a result of the falsehoods fed to the media, the right wing had cover to spew much of their ridiculous nonsense about Black Lives Matter. which has had a great relationship with the Dallas Police, who were providing security for the protest while wearing their normal police uniforms, as opposed to the riot gear we often see police use which further exacerbates the problem. Not to mention taking the conversation away from the ease with which people can get deadly weapons and kill multiple people at once. Nor will it help us discuss the highly unusual way the Dallas Police ended the situation, by using a robot to deliver a bomb and exploding it to kill him. Was that really necessary? Did he have enough food and water to hold out for a long time? I doubt it, so all the police had to do was wait him out. They had him surrounded. He would have had to come out to get something to eat or drink. So they were “impatient.” Did that give them the right to decide he didn’t deserve a trial, or a verdict, or a sentence from a judge, and they could proceed straight to execution? Because that’s what it was – an execution, and a cruel and unusual one at that.