Editorial: End the violence, right now

The Detroit News


Nothing justifies the killing of police officers. Period. With three more officers dead in Louisiana on Sunday, the conversations about how to improve community policing and better train officers must center on that indisputable fact.

Republicans gathered here this week for their national convention have an opportunity to help de-escalate the rising tensions and violence. Politicians, media, protesters and police all have a role to play in ensuring such senseless acts stop now.

That is just as true at the GOP convention as it is at the NAACP national convention, which is taking place this week in Cincinnati.

These officers lost their lives less than a week after President Barack Obama spoke in Dallas, commemorating the five police officers who were murdered there earlier this month during a Black Lives Matter protest. Two separate incidents in Minnesota and Louisiana of black men being shot and killed by police seem to have sparked these other tragic incidents. But there is no excuse.

Obama on Sunday rightly condemned these senseless acts. “We as a nation have to be loud and clear that nothing justifies violence against law enforcement. Attacks on police are an attack on all of us, and the rule of law that makes society possible,” Obama said from the White House. “We don't need inflammatory rhetoric.”

That’s advice presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, who set the convention agenda “making America safe again,” should heed. Safety and security are the right priorities at the moment. And there are important policy issues that should be discussed in a serious and responsible matter. Contrasting the differences between the Republican and Democratic platforms is legitimate, but should be done so without overheated and divisive accusations.

But the prime-time convention lineup Monday could have been better suited to the law-and-order discussion. While there were some strong political and military leaders in the queue Monday night, the celebrity focus seemed somewhat distasteful during this time of national distress.

No offense to “Duck Dynasty” star Willie Robertson or actor and television producer Scott Baio, but if Trump is trying to prove he can be presidential in a crisis, these choices don’t offer much confidence.

In his comments Sunday, Obama threw some of the blame for growing tensions and racial divisions on the media. And it’s true the media are quick to play up any story that falls into the narrative that white police officers are targeting unarmed black men.

Yet Obama has also played into those claims of racial disparities in the criminal justice system, even though it’s far from clear that this is happening in a systemic fashion.

For instance, Heather Mac Donald, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of the book “The War on Cops” has asserted the numbers show a very different picture.

“It bears repeating: Unjustified shootings by police officers are an aberration, not the norm, and there is no evidence that racism drives police actions,” she wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal.

During his speech to the NAACP group on Sunday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (and former GOP presidential contender) set the right tone. He condemned the police killings but also urged working together to promote healing, and discussed his collaborative effort on police-community relations.

That’s the kind of rhetoric Kasich’s fellow Republicans should mimic as they work to convince voters this week that they have the right candidates and policies to make and keep America safe.