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Dallas Killings: 3 Suspects in Custody and 4th in Standoff for shooting 11 Police Officers

Officials say the attackers had intended widespread damage and a suspicious package has been secured by the city's bomb squad

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Emergency responders administer CPR to an unknown patient on a stretcher as law enforcement officials stand nearby at the emergency receiving area of Baylor University Medical Center, early Friday, July 8, 2016. Image source: AP
  • The attackers had intended widespread damage and a suspicious package has been secured by the city’s bomb squad
  • NAACP President and CEO William Brooks told VOA the rights organization is pushing for the passage of several pieces of legislation 
  • There have been 509 fatal police shootings in the United States in 2016 compared to 990 in 2015

The Dallas police chief said early Friday morning, July 8, three suspects are in custody and police are negotiating with a fourth who is in a standoff with police at a downtown garage in the area where a demonstration held Thursday to protest the slayings of two black men by police erupted into chaos with 11 police officers shot.  Four of the officers have died.

Police Chief David Brown said the suspect at the garage said “the end is coming” and that there are bombs “all over the place” in the garage and in downtown.

Brown said one of the detained suspects is a female.  The other two suspects being interviewed, Brown said, were seen with camouflage bags, prompting officers to follow their car.

Officials say the attackers had intended widespread damage and a suspicious package has been secured by the city’s bomb squad.

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Dallas police detain a driver after several police officers were shot in downtown Dallas, Thursday, July 7, 2016. Image source: AP
Dallas police detain a driver after several police officers were shot in downtown Dallas, Thursday, July 7, 2016. Image source: AP

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings has asked people who work in the downtown area where the shootings occurred to stay away Friday.

Police had issued a photograph of an armed black man in camouflage dress who attended the demonstration as “a person of interest” in Thursday’s shooting.  The man later turned himself into authorities, who say he was apparently not involved in the shootings.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. Image Source: www.texasobserver.org
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. Image Source: www.texasobserver.org

Police say two snipers opened fire on police during the demonstration that was being held to protest the police killings of two black men earlier this week in separate incidents – one in Minnesota, the other in Louisiana.  The two killings of the black men are the latest incidents in a string of shootings in the U.S. of what is widely viewed as examples of the excessive use of force in police dealings with minorities.

The deadly violence came just hours after President Barack Obama urged American law enforcement to eliminate racial bias from its ranks, saying “all of us as Americans should be troubled” by the videotaped police shootings of black men this week in Minnesota and Louisiana.

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“We’ve seen tragedies like this too many times,” Obama said upon arriving in Warsaw Friday morning for a two-day meeting of NATO leaders. He said he felt compelled to address the shootings in a televised statement — in addition to a Facebook post published hours earlier — given the “extraordinary interest” in the incidents.

The president said all Americans should be concerned about the problem of frequent police shootings of black people, which he called “symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist” in the U.S. justice system. He said those disparities are backed up by statistics that show African Americans and Hispanics are treated differently by police.

US President Barack Obama talks upon Dalla Shootings. Image Source: www.telegraph.co.uk
US President Barack Obama talks upon Dalla Shootings. Image Source: www.telegraph.co.uk

Earlier this week, an African American man was fatally shot by a police officer during a routine traffic stop in the midwestern city of Falcon Heights, Minnesota, prompting Governor Mark Dayton to call for an independent federal investigation.

Police say 32-year-old Philando Castile of nearby St. Paul was killed after a policeman pulled over his vehicle. They said the incident began when an officer initiated a traffic stop, but they have not further explained what led to the shooting. They said the officer involved has been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure in cases like this.

Governor Dayton said he does not believe Castile would have been treated that way if he had been white.

The state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has been called in to investigate.

A child and a woman were passengers in the car when Castile was killed. Shortly after the shots were fired, the woman began broadcasting video on her cell phone, streaming it live on her private Facebook account.

Castile was shown slumped in the car and bleeding profusely with at least one officer pointing a gun through the driver’s side window.

The shooting came one day after police killed 37-year-old Alton Sterling in the southern city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Two white officers, responding to a call about an armed man, had Sterling pinned to the ground when at least one officer shot him. The investigation into the shooting is being led by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.

NAACP President and CEO William Brooks told VOA the rights organization is pushing for the passage of several pieces of legislation, including comprehensive racial profiling laws at the state and federal levels.

“The laws that govern when police can use lethal force need to be reformed and they need to be reformed now,” said Amnesty International’s Jamira Burley. “Philando Castile should not have had to fear for his life during a traffic stop.”

Samuel Walker, a professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska and an expert on police accountability, told VOA, “There’s deep-seated racial prejudice” among some white Americans “and that plays out in police encounters.” Walker said some police officers have “an unconscious bias” that causes them to “react accordingly.”

Dallas shootings protest, Image Source: abc7.com
Dallas shootings protest, Image Source: abc7.com

With the proliferation of video recording devices, Walker said the United States is in the midst of “a digital revolution of policing” that is having a “tremendous effect” on the practice nationwide.

Although fatal police shootings go unabated, videos have had a “huge impact on public understanding of policing,” he said.

There have been 509 fatal police shootings in the United States in 2016 compared to 990 last year, according to a national database maintained byThe Washington Post. (VOA)

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    This is an example of racial violence. One needs to understand that all lives matter.

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Judge Order Government Find Separated Children at US-Mexico Border

U.S. government had started implementing its policy of separating families months before it was announced “a very significant event.

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FILE - Christian, from Honduras, recounts his separation from his child at the border during a news conference at the Annunciation House,in El Paso, Texas, June 25, 2018. VOA

A U.S. judge Thursday appeared open to ordering the government to find potentially thousands of additional children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border by the Trump administration, which could greatly expand the scope of a lawsuit challenging the separations.

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego called a January report by an internal government watchdog that found the U.S. government had started implementing its policy of separating families months before it was announced “a very significant event.”

The Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said in a report published earlier this year that the agency had identified many more children in addition to the 2,737 included as part of the class action lawsuit challenging family separations brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) last year.

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Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego, July 17, 2018. Sabraw, who ordered children be reunited with their families after being separated at the US-Mexico border, may order the government to expand the scope of the reunifications. VOA

ACLU wants all families reunited

In response to the lawsuit, Sabraw ordered the families identified through a court process to be reunited with their children.

The ACLU has petitioned the judge to expand the class to force the government to do a full accounting of any additional separated children.

The premise of the class action lawsuit, Sabraw said, was the “overarching allegation of the unlawful separation” of families by the Trump administration.

“When there’s an allegation of wrong on this scale, one of the most fundamental obligations of law is to determine the scope of the wrong,” he said. “It is important to recognize we are talking about human beings.”

The administration of President Donald Trump implemented a “zero tolerance” policy to criminally prosecute and jail all illegal border crossers, even those traveling with their children, leading to a wave of separations last year. The policy sparked outrage when it became public, and the backlash led Trump to sign an executive order reversing course June 20, 2018.

In light of the Inspector General’s findings, as well as investigative reporting, Sabraw said, the current June 26, 2018, cut-off date for cases to be part of the lawsuit becomes “very arbitrary.”

‘Other galaxy of a task’

Department of Justice attorney Scott Stewart argued that the ACLU’s request to expand the class would blow the case into an “other galaxy of a task.” The government has argued in court papers that it is too labor intensive to find children who were separated and subsequently released to sponsors before the court order last year.

While most of the outrage last year focused on the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy, the government has continued to separate families on a smaller scale.

ALSO READ: Trump’s Idea to Siphon Money for Border Wall Meets Resistance

In a filing Wednesday, the government said it had separated 245 children at the border between June 26, 2018, and Feb. 5, 2019. The government said 92 percent of these children were separated because of “parent criminality, prosecution, gang affiliation, or other law enforcement purpose.”

Advocates say there is little transparency about the criteria and evidence used to justify ongoing separations. (VOA)