The Dallas Police Department lost four officers to snipers after a protest on Thursday evening.

I am heartbroken and horrified that 12 police officers were shot leaving five dead in Dallas on Thursday evening. These officers gave their lives protecting the right to free speech and assembly of people who were literally protesting them.

The Dallas Police Chief has confirmed today that one of the suspects, who was killed by explosives used by police to breach where he had barricaded himself in, said to negotiators that he was upset about Black Lives Matter and police shootings and he wanted to kill white people, in particular white officers.

There is no possible justification for this, none. Unfortunately there was plenty of vitriol toward police under the banner of Black Lives Matter, that fact coupled with the targeting of police will make their arguments fall on deaf ears.  The snipers involved were not doing the Black Lives Matter movement any favors.

I would also say that the protest, and most protests that have occurred, by all accounts have been peaceful and orderly. It has been reported that prior to the shooting protestors were posing for pictures with police officers.

It would be a mistake to blame this shooting on those protestors and to demonize them. At the same time it is an equal mistake to demonize all police officers for the actions of few.

I’ve seen some on social media complain about how those of us who are vocal about this horrific event were silent in the light of Philandro Castile’s shooting by police in Minnesota, and Alton Sterling’s shooting by police in Baton Rogue, LA.  I’m silent because I don’t like commenting on events such as these until I know all of the facts.

A lot of people jumped to conclusions in Ferguson, and to this day false information is still being spread around (“Hands up, don’t shoot”). We need to take a collective breath, and that especially includes the President of the United States. Never before have I seen a President interject himself into local affairs than I have seen with President Barack Obama. Never before have we seen events like these become nationalized due to the influence of social media. Social media has changed the dynamic of events such as these forever. I first learned details about the Dallas shooting through Twitter, and information was coming to me minutes faster before I saw it from news sources. Social media can be a double-edged sword. Good information can come your way fast, but so can bad information.

We need to take a collective breath, and both conservatives and liberals, police apologists and Black Lives Matters supporters are guilty of not doing this. Not every black person shot by the police was shot unjustifiably. The vast majority of law enforcement officers are courteous and professional, and follow proper protocol. It is a difficult and thankless job. They risk their lives literally everyday in service to you and me, and they deserve our respect.

It would be naive to think, however, that every shooting is justified. Law enforcement officers are human, flawed and have sin natures just like everyone else. They can make mistakes, they can be racist, they also struggle with sin.

The most recent two police-involved shootings leave questions, reasonable questions that need answers. In most cases, however, we do not have all of the information, haven’t seen all of the video footage, and haven’t heard all of the eyewitness testimony. Also, many times, we are not aware of the protocols police officers follow and the training they receive. We also don’t know the thoughts and intentions of the heart so those who say these shootings were racist can’t possibly know that.

Let investigators do their work, let’s wait for information to be released, and together take a collective breath.

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