Local Reaction To Dallas, Sterling, Castile

Jul 8, 2016

Authorities are still learning about the shootings in Dallas that killed five police officers and wounded several more. That violence follows two civilian deaths at the hands of police this week that galvanized protestors.

"This is not just a black issue. Not just a Hispanic issue. This is an American issue that we should all care about, all fair-minded people should be concerned."

President Barack Obama commented after Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police Tuesday in Louisiana and Philando Castile met a similar fate Wednesday in Minnesota.  Hours later, he deplored the shooting deaths of several police officers in Dallas...     "I believe that I speak for every single American when I say that we are horrified over these events, and that we stand united with the people and the police department in Dallas."

The week’s violence has left people concerned, frightened in some cases, and devastated in others. Dr. Alice Green is director of the Center for Law and Justice in Albany.  "I feel deeply for those black men who were killed, probably because they were black. I'm feeling pain because of the police officers who were killed last night, and I'm wondering 'what do we tell our kids now?'  I'm on my way to conduct a legal rights program for kids, teenagers, and I've been struggling with what do we tell them now, about all of this. And I've come down on the side of believing that we have to certainly reject violence. That violence in both of these situations were wrong and destructive.  I want them to know what their rights are and how to manage their interactions with police. Hopefully many of them will be saved because of that. And I want to also tell them how important it is now, even more important to work and continue the struggle to change the way police operate and to change our social structure, so that everyone knows that every life is of value in this country. Black lives matter."

Black Lives Matter held marches across the nation Thursday night, including in Schenectady, where marcher Oriana Miles told Time Warner Cable News:  "People get angry, they get riled up. Time goes on until the next one, until the next name becomes a hashtag."

Concerns about police conduct were momentarily tabled, though, when word came of a sniper in Dallas. Peter Barry is the President of the Police Benevolent Association of New York State. "We are stunned and saddened by the tragic events that unfolded last night in the city of Dallas. The Police Benevolent Association of New York State sends our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the families of the five police officers who died courageously in the line of duty protecting the citizens of Dallas."

Black Lives Matter planned to stage a vigil for the latest victims and a remembrance for Ivy Friday at 5:30 in Albany's Dana Park. An Albany police spokesman says "normal procedures" will be followed in the interests of safety, security and order.

Rick Mathews is Director of Simulations Training for the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity at the University at Albany. "Everybody wants people to be safe, wants people to be secure. The problem we run into is that we have individuals in the country, regardless of race, nationality, religious whatever, that have very extreme views, and sometimes they take those feelings out, and they take action. The problem is that, we often say this about terrorism, we say terrorists only have to be right once. We, the rest of us, particularly those in law enforcement, responders, we have to be right all the time."

Alice Green suggests we all take a deep breath, and reflect on the moment.  "We have to think about the role that racism, guns, hatred and violence is playing out, and that some leaders on the national level are now giving people license to say that that's the approach that we need to take. So we're really worried."