If you are feeling like the world has gone crazy, maybe you’re right.
It was just 11 days ago when a hate-filled sniper assassinated five Dallas Police officers and injured seven others.
Now another hate-filled terrorist has killed three more police officers in Baton Rouge. Three others were injured.
That’s 18 public servants — people who put their lives on the line to protect strangers — killed or seriously injured because they wore a uniform and badge.
It’s an unspeakable tragedy.
Sadly, I’m not surprised.
Tragically, we could see this coming.
For over a year now, I’ve been following the hate-filled rhetoric on social media, mainstream media and in person from members of Black Lives Matter, Copwatch and others.
I’ve read some of their postings calling for and celebrating the killing and injuring of police officers. They create hashtags such as #deadcop, #FTP and @killacop – and the conversations are downright disturbing.
I’ve been to several protests, and witnessed the anger, heard the profanity-laden insults and the screams for dead cops. I’ve watched them get in the faces of officers on the line.
I’ve also seen the stoic and professional responses of police officers here in Southern California.
You won’t see the abuse of officers on the evening news. It’s just too much for television.
I can’t help but to wonder if the killers in Dallas and Baton Rouge were inspired by the hate-filled rhetoric.
If this type of hate speech was directed at any specific race, religion or sexual orientation, our leaders would condemn it and our communities would not tolerate it.
Indeed, there are serious issues in our criminal justice system that need to be addressed — including rooting out bias. And the videos circulating on social media that show officers using deadly force are hard to watch.
But it’s not OK, fair or even American to indict an entire class of professionals based on the real or perceived injustices at the hands of a few.
How do we fix this?
We have to win the hearts and minds of our communities. More than ever, we have to show them what we do and, more importantly, who we are.
It seems the only time we open up about who we are is at police officer funerals. This must change.
We also must tell the public when and how we hold officers accountable. We don’t tolerate the very small minority of bad cops who make it through our rigorous screening process. We have to show the public this.
We must also provide the facts — all of them — as quickly as possible during critical incidents to counter the false narrative that these hate groups seemed to have mastered.
If we don’t tell our story, they most certainly will — and it’s unlikely that their version will reflect the truth.
We also must go on offense and attack the legitimacy of any movement or individual that uses hate in its messaging.
It’s not acceptable to make a statement like, “Black Lives Matter doesn’t condone shooting law enforcement. But I have to be honest: I understand why it was done,” as Black Lives Matter organizer Sir Maejor said in a recent interview on CBS.
He’s defending the indefensible — and he and others like him deserve to be exposed.
The problems and issues facing our police and nation won’t get resolved through generalized hatred and killing of police officers.
Baton Rouge Police Officer Montrell Jackson was killed Sunday in Baton Rouge. In a July 8 Facebook post, he wrote: “These are trying times. Please don’t let hate infect our heart.”
I just pray another innocent police officer doesn’t have to die before we collectively come to our senses.
Joe is a retired Anaheim Police Department captain. You can reach him at email@example.com.