The U.S. spent half the year up in arms and in heated debates over the struggle to protect black lives against those dressed in blue and the boys in blue from those seeking to exact revenge over policy brutality and shootings. July saw three killings starting with Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge who was shot several times at close range, which was caught on video by a bystander. Philando Castille’s death at the hands of Officer Jeronimo Yanez followed in Minnesota and was filmed by his girlfriend who sat feet away from Castille as he was shot several times. The protests started, the Black Lives Matter movement went into full force and a misguided Micah Johnson targeted and executed 5 Dallas Police Officers, wounding several others in a sniper-like attack. Johnson was later killed by a remote-controlled bomb-disposal robot after a standoff with authorities. The Baton Rouge police department was rocked by the killing of 3 of their officers who were ambushed by former Marine, Gavin Long. Whether the 2 incidents of violence against police were prompted by the Black Lives Matter movement is debated by citizens and legislatures.
The violence continued in September with an African-American unarmed Tulsa, Oklahoma man, Terence Crutcher, being fatally wounded by Officer Betty Shelby while waiting for help with his disabled vehicle. Keith Scott’s death in Charlotte, North Carolina happened later that month. Scott, who suffered from brain damage was not able to fully communicate with officers and was killed as his wife videotaped the incident. Scott’s death was followed by the shooting of Alfred Olango in San Diego, California after he pulled out a vape smoking device.
Frustration over the handling of officers in the aftermath of police shootings could be quelled by exacting change. This is apparent to Vanita Gupta of Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the FBI has taken note and is working to create a national database of police shootings to keep a consistent tracking system. What will be done with that information remains to be see. But some see it as a welcome start to addressing the problem.