Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

Black Lives Matter attorney: 'The movement will not be distracted'

by Austin Cross and Josie Huang | Take Two®

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People rally Thursday in Dallas to protest the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. A later shootout with what police chief David Brown described as two snipers left at least three police officers dead and at least seven more hurt. Laura Buckman/AFP/Getty Images

The sniper attack on police officers in Dallas comes amid a week of racial strife. 

At a press conference Friday, Dallas Police Chief David Brown relayed statements made by one suspected shooter. 

For local reaction, Take Two spoke to Nana Gyamfi, an LA-based attorney, and activist who has represented several members of Black Lives Matter in court in recent years. 

(Note: Gyamfi does not speak for Black Lives Matter.)

Highlights

The identity of one suspect was revealed this morning. His name is Micah Xavier Johnson.  He told officers that he was not affiliated with any groups, but he did speak about Black Lives Matter. What's your reaction this morning? 

First of all, I take everything the police say with a grain of salt when I don’t have a live body to tell me what they actually said. I'm not taking it as the word of God that this is what was said to these officers, but beyond that, as someone who has worked with the Black Lives Matter and represented folks with Black Lives Matter, this is not the type of behavior that Black Lives Matter movement members engage in. My reaction is that we need to continue to stay focused, that we need to continue to be a movement that is not distracted, and that the movement will not be distracted by the actions of individuals, especially those that are not associated with the movement. 

Movements like Black Lives Matter have led people to counter with "Police Lives Matter" or "Blue Lives Matter." How do people come together when so many seem to think that accepting one mantra means rejecting the other? Can you be both?

I can't answer that question for individuals, right? It depends on what perspective you're coming from. From the perspective that I come from, and I don't speak for Black Lives Matter, I see the police as part of the state and part of state sanctioned violence against our people, and so for me, I'm not concerned about blue lives, I'm concerned about black lives. In fact, I want the police to be abolished. I think we should be pushing the police out of our community. I think that we should be defunding the police. I think that we should be demilitarizing the police and finally dismantling the police. For me, there's not even a discussion about Blue Lives Matter --

Nana, I need to ask you, though, you want to defund the police — how would you suggest we keep order in society without the police?

Well, I suggest we keep order by doing what we did before we had the influx of crack cocaine and other ills that caused us to call the police in. There was a time when black people didn't call police into the community...

Press the blue play button to hear the full interview. 

(Note: In this interview, Gyamfi makes several statements that we were unable to immediately substantiate in regards to officer-involved shootings and the LAPD. For a more comprehensive look at the issue, please see KPCC's investigation into police shootings in Los Angeles.)

Answers have been edited for clarity.

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