Black Lives Matter leaders condemn Dallas shootings

Jay Reeves
Associated Press

Leaders and supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement sought a delicate balance Friday by both condemning the slaying of five Dallas police officers and promising more demonstrations against deadly shootings by law enforcement.

In Philadelphia, a group planned a “Weekend of Rage” to draw attention to police disparities, while in Atlanta, an organizer said a demonstration would go on Friday night, less than 24 hours after the slaughter in Dallas. In turn, police across the country said they would step up their patrols.

Black Lives Matter organizer Sir Maejor said the rally in Atlanta was scheduled before the Dallas shooting. People are angry over police violence against blacks and need an outlet to demonstrate peacefully, he said.

“Black Lives Matter doesn’t condone shooting law enforcement. But I have to be honest: I understand why it was done,” Maejor said. “I don’t encourage it, I don’t condone it, I don’t justify it. But I understand it.”

Black Lives Matter began in 2013 after black teenager Trayvon Martin was shot to death by one-time community watch volunteer George Zimmerman in Florida. Zimmerman was later acquitted, and the movement grew amid a string of fatal shootings of blacks by police officers, many of which were captured on video and shared on social media.

Jeff Hood, an organizer in Dallas, described hearing shots and seeing officers fall as he marched with hundreds of people through downtown after a rally Thursday night.

“This is a devastating time for us as activists and organizers. We cannot about bring justice through violence,” said Hood, a pastor.

In Philadelphia, Erica Mines of the Philly Coalition for REAL Justice said the group is planning a “Weekend of Rage.” She is worried about her safety, but said continued action is necessary to bring about change.

“Everyone is not going to be on our side, but those who understand will join in the struggle and help educate the masses. We are hurting. We are tired. We are fed up,” she said.