by Dr Boyce Watkins
I’ve been asked all week what I think about Micah X Johnson, the black man who is accused of killing five police officers this week in Dallas, Texas. According to numerous media sources, Johnson’s attacks were driven by the recent police killings of black men, namely Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Of course none of us wants to see violence in any context, but you can’t talk about Johnson’s actions without discussing the context within which those actions took place.
Whenever someone asks me if it was OK for Micah Johnson to do what he did in Dallas, I simply ask if it was OK for the cops to do what they are doing to black men. That’s the problem with doing harm to innocent people – it can, unfortunately, sometimes lead to harmful retaliation.
Personally, I would prefer that Micah Johnson be alive, and the truth is that he and those cops would be alive if the police officers weren’t out there consistently killing innocent people. In fact, Micah might still be serving his country as a member of the United States Military. But instead, they radicalized a young black man by repeatedly murdering those he loved and then telling him that his life means nothing.
So, for any police officers asking me to tell the Micah Johnsons of the world to stand down, I fully expect that they will say the same thing to their fellow officers. I would gladly stop a black man from killing innocent people, but I wonder how readily a cop would stop another officer from killing a black man.
So, the next time an all-white jury decides to acquit an officer who murders a black man in cold blood, I hope they will remember that these actions can often lead to painful and disappointing reactions from innocent young black men who just can’t take it anymore. In other words, everybody loses when our country continues to be committed to black genocide via unjust violence and blatant white supremacy.