Tonight’s open line is here. Above is a photo of a sign at the Fayettevile Chamber of Commerce endorsing the referred civil rights ordinance going to voters Sept. 8. The chamber was a key opponent of an earlier measure. It has been revived and now has broad business community support. Anti-gay religious groups continue to oppose it.
The big news today is the seemingly unprovoked slaying of a Houston-area deputy sheriff who was pumping gas. It will be the lead news story on TV networks tonight and probably of high interest for days to come. It seems likely to become a counterpoint to those protesting the way deadly force is used by police around the country.
At this moment, the surveillance video provides no clue why a man pumped multiple shots into a deputy pumping gas. At this moment, we have no idea whether the shooter was motivated by other events. A 30-year-old man who’s had previous run-ins with police has been arrested, authorities said at a 4:30 p.m. news conference.
I don’t think it’s necessary to join tribes on these episodes, at least not instantly.
Whatever else is worth discussing, police should not be shot mercilessly in cold blood and those who do so have no right to cover from societal ills . Insanity is, the law says, another matter. Police have difficult jobs that require quick decisions in often tense situations. Their uniforms and powers protect them in many ways, but also make them targets.
A former state legislator, John Burris, traded some comments with me today on Twitter that included his assertion that, in general, police always deserve the benefit of doubt against criminals. Of course all deadly interactions with police don’t involve criminals.
Speaking again generally, and not about the Houston slaying, police should not be given a pass for poor employment screening, training or performance of duty. No one should be bullied into silence on these topics, not even if, indisputably, police themselves are often victims.
Beyond deploring the seeming senselessness and brutality of the Houston slaying, I’m willing to wait for more details before blaming it on Black Lives Matter, as local law enforcement suggested shortly after the shooting.
I note in checking Houston media a police shooting of an unarmed but combative patient in a Houston hospital this weekend and the release of a video in San Antonio that appeared to show the shooting of a man by officers after he’d raised his hands. They were responding to a domestic dispute. I’ll wait on more information on those, too. Not everything is black or white. Or blue.