President Obama penned an open letter to law enforcement across the United States, pledging “we have your backs.” The letter comes after a horrific few weeks for law enforcement. Five Dallas police officers were murdered by a sniper two weeks ago, and last weekend three Baton Rouge officers were killed in an ambush. Ten other officers were wounded in the attacks.
Pres. Obama in open letter to law enforcement community: “Thank you for your courageous service. We have your backs” pic.twitter.com/JtsLXUhCYN
— ABC News (@ABC) July 19, 2016
Throughout the letter, President Obama emphasizes that the country cannot allow the events of the past few weeks and years to cause more division and hate. He mentions each of the fallen officers by name and he talks about the post that Officer Montrell Jackson wrote on Facebook just before his death.
Jackson spoke about the struggle of being both black and a police officer during all of this social turmoil and made a plea for the anger and hatred to stop.
— New Day (@NewDay) July 18, 2016
The relationship between law enforcement and the African-American community has been boiling over for the past few years. The high-profile deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police officers have given rise to the Black Lives Matter movement.
According to their website, the Black Lives Matter movement began after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin. The death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, prompted the movement to gain an enormous amount of steam with protests being held all across the country.
In the days before the first ambush on police in Dallas, Texas, Alton Sterling was shot and killed by Baton Rouge police officers, and Philando Castile was shot by police in Minnesota while his girlfriend streamed his death live on Facebook.
It appears that two men took it upon themselves to exact justice and targeted anyone with a badge. While they may try to use the Black Lives Matter movement to excuse their cowardly actions, going after all police officers for the actions of a few makes them no better than the few “bad apple” officers who have targeted black men and women.
President Obama’s open letter calls for the country to come together and “recognize our common humanity.” As the New York Daily News reports, not all law enforcement officials agree with Obama’s call for a national dialogue on these issues. Some are openly against the Black Lives Matter movement and are not afraid to say so.
Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke received thunderous applause at the RNC when he attacked the Black Lives Matter movement and referred to it as “anarchy.” He received a standing ovation when he opened his speech with the words “Blue Lives Matter in America” according to the Daily Mail.
In contrast, the National Fraternal Order of Police praised President Obama’s open letter on their Facebook page.
Tonight, another police officer has died in the line of duty. Capt. Robert Melton, an officer in Kansas City, Kansas, was killed while chasing suspects in a drive-by shooting incident. According to CNN, the suspects bailed from the car and began shooting at Capt. Melton.
Melton’s death brings the total number of police officers shot on duty to 31 this year, along with six K-9 officers. There are no easy answers in these situations, but the number of people dying each year in the United States due to gun shots is extremely alarming.
Gun control will likely be a large issue in this year’s election since ignoring it gets harder each day. President Obama has tried to pass stricter gun control legislation but has been blocked at every turn.
Hopefully, President Obama’s open letter will help ease some of the tension between African-Americans and the police, and the killing will stop on both sides. This situation is a volcano waiting to erupt if things continue the way they are.
[Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images]