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Tags: Law Enforcement | Race | tension | political divide | Nation | Angry

Racial Tensions, Political Divides Heating up Angry Nation

Racial Tensions, Political Divides Heating up Angry Nation
(Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)

By    |   Saturday, 09 July 2016 10:03 AM

A week of violence that left five Dallas police officers dead during the protests over the killings of two black men by law enforcement officials is bringing fears that the anger simmering just below the surface in the United States is beginning to boil over, and leaving people in public and private life searching for answers to restoring the peace.

Even while Dallas was mourning the officers' deaths, which came at the end of an otherwise peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration, shots rang out in other places on Friday night, including in Valdosta, Georgia, where police say a man called 911 and then ambushed a police officer responding to the scene.

The man arrested, Stephen Paul Beck, 22, was described as being Asian, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation reported there was no immediate evidence that the ambush was related to the Dallas shootings, according to the Associated Press. Both Beck and the responding officer were injured and both are expected to survive.

But the incident, along with a growing atmosphere of crisis, is stoking fears among many that violence is taking over America's cities.

Friday night, a day after the Dallas police deaths, thousands of protesters marched in U.S. cities taking to the streets in New York City, Tucson, Atlanta and other locations to protest the deaths of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota, both of whom were killed by police officers as cell phone camera recorded their deaths.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden both called for peace, with Obama saying he'll cut short a foreign trip next week and visit Dallas.

"As Americans, we are wounded by all of these deaths," Biden said Saturday. "It's on all of us to stand up, to speak out about disparities in our criminal justice system — just as it's on all of us to stand up for the police who protect us in our communities every day," he said.

The growing series of events is bringing many in the United States to believe, like movie director Spike Lee tweeted Friday, that "America is broken," reports The Hill.
The growing divide is leaving some who have been accused of encouraging divisiveness, such as the Rev. Al Sharpton, to call for change.
"We have got to make real change because otherwise these extremists exploit the anxiety of the people," civil rights campaigner Rev. Al Sharpton told The Hill. "Most people want to see a balanced system where the police are respected and can do their job, and at the same time citizens are protected. After that, extremists have the floor."

But even while Dallas' faith community met with the community's mayor and police chief for an interfaith service on Friday, state Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was calling Black Lives Matter protesters "hypocrites" for expecting police to protect their rallies.

"All those protesters last night, they ran the other way expecting the men and women in blue to turn around and protect them. What hypocrites!" Patrick told Fox News' "Outnumbered" program. 

He called for the violence to end, but at the same time blamed Black Lives Matters protesters, complaining that "too many in the general public who aren't criminals but have a big mouth are creating situations like we saw last night... I do blame people on social media with their hatred toward police. I do blame former Black Lives Matter protests — last night was peaceful, but others have not been. This has to stop."

Many others are comparing the country's growing violence to 1968, when both civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, a presidential candidate, were killed by assassins as riots took over the nation's cities over the Vietnam war.

"We had the riots, we had cities burning, the rise of the Black Panther Party, turbulence in the country,"  broadcaster and writer Earl Ofari Hutchinson told The Hill.  "But driving everything — the thing that stuck out — was the polarization, the division. We fast forward almost 50 years later and we are seeing a return of that sort of mentality."

But Princeton professor of history and public affairs Julian Zelizer disagreed, saying "many things have changed" since 1968.

"Even the violence we saw last night pales by comparison with the rioting that took place throughout the 1960s," Zelizer said Friday.

And while race and the criminal justice system are a key issue, the nation is also angry over its politicians and its economic insecurity, while social media gives the disenchanted a place to argue while traditional mainstream media is giving way to sources that in many cases feed the anger.

Wage stagnation is causing a major reason for the nation's anger, Sharpton told The Hill.

"When people wake up in the morning trying to figure out how they are going to pay the bills, how they are going to put food on the table for their family, it leads to an anxiety that then leads to bad judgment and bad choices," he said.

The nation is also torn between its two likely major party nominees for the presidency.

Donald Trump has been criticized of being antagonistic toward minorities, women, and other groups, while other critics say HIllary Clinton's comments about policing are undercutting public confidence in law enforcement.

And Obama, said Ron Hosko, the president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, is too quick to assume that any interaction where a black person is killed by a police officer has occurred because of racism.

"That is wholly inappropriate," he told The Hill. "He has shown ridiculously poor judgment. He is the divider-in-chief when he does that and he has done it repeatedly."

And on a national level, leaders seem stymied about how to solve the growing problems of anger and violence.

"No. No. No. No. No. More killing solves nothing," a "sick at heart" Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren posted on her Facebook page Friday:

Meanwhile, Trump called for a return to "law and order" in a statement Friday. 

"Last night's horrific execution-style shootings of 12 Dallas law enforcement officers, five of whom were killed and seven wounded, is an attack on our country. It is a coordinated, premeditated assault on the men and women who keep us safe. We must restore the confidence of our people to be safe and secure in their homes and on the street. The senseless, tragic deaths of two people in Louisiana and Minnesota reminds us how much more needs to be done."

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A week of violence that left five Dallas police officers dead during the protests over the killings of two black men by law enforcement officials is bringing fears that the anger simmering just below the surface in the United States is beginning to boil over, and leaving...
Race, tension, political divide, Nation, Angry
Saturday, 09 July 2016 10:03 AM
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