The grief and shock from an already tumultuous week took on a new dimension after Thursday evening’s sniper attack on police officers during a demonstration in Dallas — an apparent protest over the police shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota earlier in the week.
The Dallas shootings have amplified fears around safety, both for members of law enforcement and their families, as well as protesters pushing for reform within police departments around the country.
Yvonne, a caller from Colton, told KPCC's AirTalk that she cried when she heard the news from Dallas. Her husband is deputy chief of police for the Loma Linda Veterans Administration.
“Honestly, for the first time in my entire married life with this man, I was actually afraid today,” she said. “I’ve never felt that before, but I was afraid for him today. And that’s just not OK.”
But she said she was equally devastated after watching video footage of Alton Sterling’s teenage son weeping over his father’s death.
“Any death, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a police officer or this man’s father, all lives matter,” she said. “I think that if we don’t de-escalate, the escalation of fear in the community against police and the police against community is only going to make the incidents more and more and more.”
Kathy from Northridge said the hardest thing for her family was deciding how she and her husband, a member of the police department for 21 years, would discuss the events in Dallas with their children.
“[We’ve been trying] to have conversations about it, and frame it in a way that both an older teenager a young one can understand,” she said. “But then you have to talk about his safety, and frame it in a way that they will be able to feel he’s going to be OK when he goes to work.”
Communities are still organizing protests to call attention to excessive use of force by police, but caller Raquel from Highland Park said Thursday night’s events changed her sense of security around demonstrating.
“I’m never going out again,” she said, noting that she and her husband had participated in peaceful protests for years in L.A. “Last night was just absolutely horrifying.”
Caller Zack from Pasadena, however, said it was important for supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement to continue showing up in the streets.
“We should not be deterred by what is happening,” he said. “I think that will divide us and will ultimately detract from the cause.”
The issue of safety at protests was in the back of his mind, he said. “But again, if we remain silent — if we remain stagnant — what justice will be served then?"
Not everyone has taken recent events as a call to organize.
AirTalk guest Joe R. Hicks, Vice President of Community Advocates, Inc., said that the language used by Black Lives Matter has altered how citizens interact with police.
"If you're affected by the rhetoric that cops are out simply looking to harass you at the least, and perhaps take your life at the other end of that, each encounter [with police] has an edge that encounters with other populations simply don't have," he said.
Jody Armour, the Roy P. Crocker Professor of Law at USC, thinks the issue is more complex.
"[Profiling by police] isn't a figment of people's imagination," he said. "One of the things we have to reconcile here is our different senses of social reality."