Bud Kennedy

What’s next for Dallas: guesswork, anger and tears for lost heroes

Panic after first shots fired in downtown Dallas

WFAA cameras captured the harrowing scene Thursday night in downtown Dallas when the first shots were fired after the police protest.
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WFAA cameras captured the harrowing scene Thursday night in downtown Dallas when the first shots were fired after the police protest.

Dallas knows what comes next.

People will talk about guns, and hatred, and race, and Texas.

Everyone will have a hero, and a villain, and a solution, and a way to blame some political opponent.

And none of that will mean anything at all.

Because what happened Thursday night in Dallas will leave us with no easy solutions — just nightmares to haunt us for years after a bloodthirsty ambush attack on police officers of all colors who were guarding peaceful protesters of all colors.

Warning graphic content

On Friday, police will tell us about the suspects. Then someone else will refute whatever police said, and finally experts will come on the cable news networks to speculate about the suspects’ social or terror connections, whether they have any or not.

By then, Americans will already have made up our minds.

Gun control advocates will … argue that laws discourage police from asking anyone why they have a gun.

Gun hobbyists will blame the lack of licensed gun permittees in the crowd. They’ll say more people should freely carry guns in public, even though the most intrinsically “good people with guns,” law officers, were those targeted and killed.

Gun control advocates will point out how Texans can carry rifles anywhere legally, all the time, and argue that laws discourage police from asking anyone why they have a gun.

It’s all about Texas, they’ll claim. It’s too easy to buy guns, and they’re seen too often, even though more than 1 million Texans have licenses to carry a gun and you hardly ever see one.

Or it’s all about race, and tensions aggravated by an election season that seems focused on dividing Americans by color, or by ethnicity, or by country of origin, or simply into “my people” and “those people.”

Or it’s all about anti-police hatred, and vengeance, and bitterness lingering from police shootings and aggravated by two particularly disturbing videos of shootings this week.

Minnesota resident Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds’ anger was measured after police killed her fiancé and then held her all night in custody.

Dallas’ justice system definitely has its problems: gangland killings, police labor conflicts, allegations of political corruption and prosecutorial misconduct. But amid all that, officers and residents have worked extremely hard to get along, and have achieved some community-relations successes admired nationwide.

(When we see the funerals for the heroes lost Thursday, I imagine the crowd of mourners will be every bit as racially diverse as Dallas.)

I admit that I hadn’t been following the protests Thursday. I worked on something totally different, and was amazed at the end of the day to see the amateur video of Minnesota resident Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds’ stunningly courageous interview.

She was angry, but measured, making every word count in an amazing display of composure after police killed her fiancé and then held her all night in custody.

When I left work, late as usual, the Star-Telegram Building elevator opened into an empty hallway. From the parking garage, I could faintly hear a tinny little radio playing a staticky AM radio news report from Dallas.

The protesters were singing We Shall Overcome.

I listened, and thought how it sounded like a news report from decades ago, from some America lost to time.

They lowered their voices for the final stanza. I got chills listening to them slowly sing, “We shall overcome … .”

Someday seems far away.

Bud Kennedy: 817-390-7538, bud@star-telegram.com, @BudKennedy. His column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Warning: Graphic content and language. A downtown resident captured this video from her living room Thursday night as snipers opened fire on police after a protest.

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