New Delhi: The summers of 2016 in the US have seen frequent shootouts on African-American nationals by police officers. Alton Sterling became the latest addition to the list in July, after an officer shot him dead in Baton Rogue. It led to an outrage, particularly from the network ‘Black Lives Matter’ and racial justice movements against racial disparities in the US criminal justice system.
To many critics, it is just another example of an issue that quickly drew national headlines after the police shooting of a teen, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014.
Another incident this July that sparked the ‘Black Lives Matter’ debate and called for US president Obama to clear the air, was the killing of black man Philando Castile on July 6. He was shot dead by an officer in St Paul city of Minnesota.
Firing at police officers in July
However, July 17 witnessed a supposed consequence of these shootings or one of these shootings. A weary Baton Rouge was on edge and saw an emotionally drained Sunday after a gunman bent on revenge killed three cops and wounded three others. What is to be noted is that the policemen were shot 5 miles away from the spot where cops shot down Alton Sterling in July.
The July tussle between officers and black Americans does not end here. Before Sunday, on July 7, Micah Xavier Johnson ambushed and fired upon a group of police officers in Dallas, killing five officers and injuring nine others. The gunman turned a demonstration against killings of Black men in Minnesota and Louisiana from a peaceful march focused on violence committed by officers into a scene of chaos and bloodshed aimed against them.
If Sunday’s shooting was a mere consequence or a planned revenge has not yet become clear. But one thing is certain — the killings have suggested that black separatist groups are on a rise. While groups like Black Lives Matter have taken a central role in the US movement on police reform and racial justice, black separatist groups have used a more racist and militant approach.
How did Black Lives Matter take birth?
Many of today’s groups make reference to the original Black Panther Party, which carried out armed citizens’ patrols to monitor police behaviour in California during the 1960s.
So as of now, the July score stands 2-2; two Black men shot dead and in revenge, 2 shootouts on police officers.
One question that Americans are pondering on is — what has Obama changed since Ferguson?
It was in this context, that President Obama established a taskforce on 21st Century policing to rebuild trust and mend the fractured relationship between police and the young Black people.
To some, it was a long time coming. The election of the country’s first Black president highlighted how much progress America had made. It also reminded people that inequalities persist.
In the last 5 days, President Barack Obama spoke twice, both after the officers’ shooting.
Obama addressed an audience of 2,500 after the police shooting incident in Dallas, “This is not an issue of Black Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter, it is an issue of All Lives Matter”.