From the Top Down

American Presidents are often defined by their poise and words of wisdom or encouragement during times of turmoil. Unlike kings or dictators, the U.S. President is elected by the people – which means during trying times the people often look to the President for comfort, support and guidance. So, what advice does the President and other would-be leaders have to say about the recent clashes with law enforcement?

July 5th, Baton Rouge LA – 37 year old Alton Sterling was shot by police after it was reported he had threatened another man with a gun. As soon as bystander-filmed video of the incident hit the internet, and before any of the real facts were known, the shooting was labeled another unprovoked attack on a black man by police.

July 6th, Falcon Heights MN – less than 48 hours after the shooting of Alton Sterling, 32 year old Philando Castile was also shot by police during a traffic stop. This time, Castile’s girlfriend sent a live video, started just after the shots were fired, of Castile bleeding as the officer held him at gunpoint. Again, without any further information this was labeled as an unprovoked killing of a black man over nothing more than a broken taillight.

Officers on DutyIt was no surprise that President Obama would take to the nation’s airwaves to offer comments following the shootings, especially given the growing tension. This was the perfect opportunity for the most powerful man in the world to provide a calming influence, a voice of reason to be heard by those reacting to emotion rather than good judgment.  See if his words have that effect on you:

“What’s clear is that these fatal shootings are not isolated incidents. They are symptomatic of the broader challenges within our criminal justice system, the racial disparities that appear across the system year after year, and the resulting lack of trust that exists between law enforcement and too many of the communities they serve.”

To my simple civil servant mind, the President’s words do not appear calming or reassuring. To me they appear to be on the verge of encouraging continued racial divide – even more questioning of police actions. But it does appear to have inspired at least two people to take action. On Friday July 8th Micah Johnson, a 25 year old black Army veteran, opened fire on Dallas-area police officers providing security for an otherwise peaceful protest of the earlier shootings.

Again, on Sunday July 17th, Gavin Long of Kansas City, MO, a 29 year old black Marine Corps veteran, opened fire on law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge, LA. He reportedly traveled to Baton Rouge to kill officers as revenge for the Alton Sterling shooting.

While I am not saying President Obama was responsible for Johnson or Long’s actions, early investigations indicate that they had been harboring ill will towards police for some time. It’s not a stretch of the imagination to believe Johnson or Long could have interpreted the President’s words as further validation of their already-dark beliefs – their feeling that African Americans are under attack by police. What is clear is that the President, when given the opportunity to lead by example, chooses to instead provide sound bites and rhetoric.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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