Law Enforcement Continue Probe Into Deadly Ambush On Dallas Police | KERA News

Law Enforcement Continue Probe Into Deadly Ambush On Dallas Police

Jul 11, 2016
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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

People across the country continue to protest the police shootings last week in Minnesota and Louisiana. There have been clashes and hundreds of arrests. In a moment we'll hear about confrontations in Baton Rouge. First though to Dallas where the atmosphere in the streets has been markedly different. From Dallas, NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports.

WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: With innocent police and protester blood shed on the streets of Dallas, the city has been mostly unified in its common victimhood. Standing together, neither the white mayor, Mike Rawlings, nor the black police chief, David Brown, have impugned the protesters for what happened. They've emphasized instead the lone sniper is to blame.

In a press conference today, Chief Brown pleaded with the city's young black men and women to help his department address the underlying racial issues.

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CHIEF DAVID BROWN: We're hiring. We're hiring. Get off that protest line, and put an application in, and we'll put you in your neighborhood. We will help you resolve some of the problems you're protesting about.

BROWN: Perhaps no city has changed as much politically and demographically in the last 20 years as Dallas. Infamous as the city of hate after President Kennedy was assassinated here in '63, Dallas has gradually but inexorably transformed into a multi-racial mix politically dominated by Democrats. Not only is the police chief black, but the Dallas County Sheriff is an openly lesbian Hispanic.

So when the city's African-American and religious leaders called for a march protesting the killing of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota, the Dallas Police Department didn't come dressed in riot gear. They wore short sleeves and long pants and shorts. After all, it was hot.

Shetamia Taylor, a protester who was wounded in the attack, says she had no hesitation taking her four sons to the protest.

SHETAMIA TAYLOR: I googled it, and I asked the boys if they wanted to go. And they all say, yeah, let's go. And I want to show them that we can be unified, you know, that there could be a peaceful march.

GOODWYN: The protest was passionate but never violent. Nearly a thousand marchers had turned out. The speeches and calls to action were inspiring. By any measure, the evening was a success, and protesters felt proud. As the rally wound up, instead of accusations and pepper spray, the police and protesters took selfies with one another. Here's Taylor again.

TAYLOR: And we were there, and it was really nice. It was very peaceful. It was very informative. The kids had a good time. They were, you know - my 12-year-old was like, oh, I'm making history; I get to march, you know?

GOODWYN: With neither the police nor the protesters preoccupied with accusing each other and defending themselves for the carnage, the city's been able to move on to problem solving. At Parkland Hospital where many of those who were shot were shot retreated, the surgeons who had tended to them held their own press conference today. Trauma surgeon Alex Eastman expressed what many in Dallas are feeling.

ALEX EASTMAN: We will not let hate drive this discussion, and we won't let acts of gun violence drive this discussion. And we won't let this city be known for a hateful act that occurred here. This city's going to come together and show the world exactly what we're made of. And that's what's happening right now.

GOODWYN: Tonight another vigil will be held, and tomorrow President Obama arrives to mourn with the city. On Thursday night, every singer in the city has been invited to perform together at Dallas's premier concert hall, the Meyerson Symphony Center. Expected to perform are choirs from Dallas's religious congregations, its school district, its gay community, its university choirs and, last and certainly not least, the Dallas Police choir. Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, Dallas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.