paper trail

Gun violence stuns the nation

“There has been a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement,” President Obama told reporters this morning. Last night, protests over the shootings of two black men by the police erupted into violence in Dallas, where a gunman carried out a sniper attack on a dozen police officers, five of whom died. “The shootings, only a few blocks from Dealey Plaza, where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, transformed an emotional but peaceful rally into a scene of carnage and chaos, and they injected a volatile new dimension into the anguished debate over racial disparities in American criminal justice,” reports the New York Times. Protests flared across the nation in response to the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. In Baton Rouge, LA, Sterling was shot dead by police after they wrestled him to the ground outside a convenience store. Outside of St. Paul, MN, Castile was shot four times at point-blank range during a traffic stop and died soon afterward. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton said he was appalled by Castile’s homicide, and stated that it would not have happened had Castile been white. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, was taken into custody with her four-year-old daughter, who had been sitting in the back seat of the car when the shooting occurred. Narrating a video of the incident she was streaming to Facebook Live, Reynolds remains steady, responding politely to the officer’s panicked demand that she keep her hands where they are. “I will, sir,” she tells him. “No worries. I will.” Reynolds told reporters she kept calm on behalf of her daughter. “My daughter told me stay strong, and that’s what I had to do. My daughter told me, ‘Don’t cry,’ and that’s what I had to do.” Reynolds’s post mysteriously disappeared from her profile as it was spreading virally across the Internet, an absence Facebook called a “technical glitch”; Reynolds said it was the police who deleted it after confiscating her phone. “My heart goes out to the Castile family and all the other families who have experienced this kind of tragedy. My thoughts are also with all members of the Facebook community who are deeply troubled by these events,” Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post on Facebook.

“I had come from a majority-black country in which no one was wary of me because of my skin color,” writes Garnette Cadogan on LitHub, describing his shock at the racism he encountered when he moved to New Orleans from Kingston, Jamaica, to attend college. “Now I wasn’t sure who was afraid of me. I was especially unprepared for the cops. They regularly stopped and bullied me, asking questions that took my guilt for granted. I’d never received what many of my African-American friends call “The Talk”: No parents had told me how to behave when I was stopped by the police, how to be as polite and cooperative as possible, no matter what they said or did to me. So I had to cobble together my own rules of engagement. Thicken my Jamaican accent. Quickly mention my college. “Accidentally” pull out my college identification card when asked for my driver’s license.”