In the days since five police officers were killed in Dallas, we’ve learned more about who those officers were: husbands, father, friends, co-workers. They were men like Sgt. Michael Smith who took the time to provide some comfort to a young boy who was having recurring nightmares that he would be sent to jail.
Along with understanding who the victims were in the days since the Dallas shooting, we’re also still trying to understand what the events mean for Dallas itself.
“This City, Our City” occupied the entire front page of the Dallas Morning News on Sunday, accompanied with an image of a crying eye reflecting the city’s skyline. The editorial was about both the city’s history and its future.
Charlie Scudder, reporter at the Dallas Morning News, says the shooting reminded people of traumatic events that came before.
“The first thing that comes to mind nationally, of course, is the Kennedy assassination,” Scudder says. “We’ve been working really hard and we really have gone beyond that ‘city of hate’ stereotype that we had for so many decades and this adds more wrinkles to that.”
Scudder says the immediate aftermath of the shootings left the community feeling both more unified and mournful.
“Yesterday we had some protests and counter-protests,” Scudder says, “… with All Lives Matter and Black Lives Matter protestors coming together to pray and hug and talk about how just lives matter. It’s definitely been a unification.”
Two squad cars parked out in front of the downtown police station, Scudder says, are covered with flowers, notes, teddy bears and balloons.
“It’s become a real memorial,” Scudder says. “In one heartfelt moment yesterday afternoon, someone biked up on a bicycle, towing a grand piano – a baby grand behind him. He parked the piano. He played John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ and he walked away.”
But Dallas has also been on edge in the days since the shooting.
Reports of shots fired outside the police headquarters and officers had the area on lockdown Saturday. Later, reports showed that no shots were actually fired.
“We are very on edge right now, especially down near police headquarters,” Scudder says. “Especially here in the newsroom, we’re on edge to make sure we were ready to go (during the protests) in case things turned.”
President Barack Obama is slated to visit Dallas Tuesday to honor the fallen police officers and Scudder says it’s an opportunity to expand the conversation around shootings by police on civilians and shootings targeting the police.
“We don’t know what that solution is,” Scudder says. “Mayor (Mike) Rawlings has spoken a lot about how there is a problem. He’s been active in addressing that we have to have these conversations. There is that mood of ‘Can Dallas be the example?’ And that’s still in question.”
The conversation has moved to social media as well. Scudder says the hashtags #DallasStrong and #MyDallasIs have been circulating to share with the world what people in the community feels about it.
“There are a lot of stereotypes about this city,” Scudder says. “Some earned, some not. And I think that this is a chance for the world to see Dallas as more than those stereotypes.”
Post by Beth Cortez-Neavel.