Five police officers were shot to death in Dallas last night in what appears to have been a coordinated attack by at least two gunmen that occurred on the night that a Black Lives Matter movement was proceeding. Demonstrators hit the streets in Dallas to protest against recent shootings of two black men, Alton Sterling in Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Minnesota, according to the Dallas Police.

Law enforcement authorities claimed that the snipers sought to kill as many officers as possible. One gunman is dead. He holed up in a parking garaged and refused to cooperate or surrender. According to authorities in Dallas, he told police negotiators that "the end is coming... and there are bombs all over the place." He was shot to death by police. No explosive devices were found in the parking ramp by police.

Snipers opened fire as live television recorded the violence. Eight police officers were wounded in the shooting. Authorities in Dallas say that this incident represents the highest number of police fatalities in one day for the Dallas police department. “I THINK A SHOOTOUT IS HAPPENING DOWNSTAIRS OH MY GOD,” wrote Twitter user Allison moments before capturing the sound of gunfire on video.

The attack came on the evening that President Barack Obama addressed media in Warsaw, where he is to meet with the heads of fellow NATO nations. He decried the incidence of police shootings of black Americans and Latinos and called upon the nation to reflect on the causes. It was about 9 p.m. on July 7 that the otherwise peaceful protest in Texas was interrupted by shots fired at police officers. According to Dallas Police Chief Brown, “Some officers were shot in the back,” while he added that they were attacked “ambush-style.” An amateur video, for instance, showed how a man who had been hiding behind the pillars of a building surprised a police officer and shot him to death.

A visibly shaken Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said the White House and Texas governor’s office called to offer support. “It is a heartbreaking morning to lose these four officers,” Rawlings said prior to the announcement of the fifth fatality. “To say police officers put their life on the line every day is no hyperbole ladies and gentlemen, it’s a reality. We as a city, we as a country must come together and lock arms and heal the wounds we all feel from time to time.” One of the slain has been identified as Dallas transit police officer Brent Thompson. The other slain officers were from the Dallas police force. One civilian was wounded.

Police asked citizens to clear the streets and go home in the aftermath of the shootings. However, protesters continued to confront officers on the street well into the pre-dawn hours today. Not far from the site of the shootings, the Omni Dallas Hotel displayed “Back The Blue” in giant neon letters on its building.

Donald Trump meets Jesse Jackson, 1990s

Inveterate political organizer Jesse Jackson told BBC Radio in London, in the wake of the Dallas shootings: “It’s a kind of anti-black mood, antisemitism, anti-Muslim bashing, immigrant bashing, female bashing, a kind of mean-spirited division in the country.”

As to the causes of the alleged divisive mood in the United States, Jackson described what appeared to be references to presumptive presidential candidate Donald Trump: “Threats to deport 15 million immigrants…threats to build a wall between Mexico who we share 2,000 miles of a border, there’s a permissiveness towards black people [which] is readily apparent and we have been used as scapegoats for deeper and deeper economic and cultural fears.” “We are not the cause of them,” added Jackson.

When Jackson was asked about Donald Trump, he said: “He is a factor in that.” He added, “It’s not just Trump, it’s the followers of Trump; the blacks, the browns, the Muslims - we’ve been losing rights in the cause of globalization. There is a scapegoating of those who are suffering.” When he was asked how this can happen during the tenure of the first black president, Jackson said, “My appeal to the President is let’s have a White House conference on violence, poverty, racial disparities and the plan to reconstruct – there is no plan to reconstruct.”

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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