Reverse course before it’s too late

Published 10:03 am Tuesday, July 19, 2016

If it’s true that the man who gunned down a trio of law enforcement officers on Sunday in Baton Rouge did not have any connections to that city, it only further cements in my mind that we are a nation face spiraling out of control towards the deep, dark corners of Hades.

As I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon (meaning I’m not privy to the most latest developments in this investigation), TV news is reporting that the triggerman is from Kansas City. It was also reported he may have had accomplices – those who made a 9-1-1 call to Baton Rouge Police to report a man walking down the street with an assault rifle. It was possibly the motive of the others involved (the gunman was later shot and killed by law enforcement) to make that call in an effort to lure the police to the scene at which time they were brutally ambushed.

Two weeks ago in Dallas, a lone gunman used the police officers accompanying a peaceful march as sitting ducks, killing five.

Race relations were already on edge in Baton Rouge since the deadly shooting of a black man, Alton Sterling, by white two police officers on July 5. Online video, shot by a bystander, shows Sterling pinned to the ground by the two officers. Whether or not the shooting was justified (Sterling was armed – even though no weapon was displayed when the police arrived – and the officers had responded to his location based on a call that a man with a red shirt – Sterling was wearing one of that color – was pointing a weapon at another individual) remains under investigation.

However, in the aftermath of that shooting, those protesting what they felt was unnecessary force by the police were doing so in a peaceful way, until outside agitators arrived, to include Sunday’s shooter.

As I watched and listened to the TV news on Sunday afternoon about the Baton Rouge ambush, a spokesperson representing the national Black Lives Matter movement called for a “commonsense” approach to finding middle ground between blacks and the law enforcement community.

Commonsense tells me that all lives do matter. We need to steer clear of any messages that divide us. Those messages can be delivered face-to-face, on TV and most especially on social media. The latter spews the most disgusting and hateful speech, but then again people seem to stoop to that level when they type words and sentences on a computer screen. I think they tend to forget that human eyes and hearts are reading those words.

And while on the subject of social media, I need to thank those contributing dialogue on the News-Herald’s Facebook page where we published a photo essay on the march against violence held in Ahoskie on July 10. Those taking exception to why this event was not a Black Lives Matter rally and rather took on a theme of All Lives Matter, you carefully and calmly explained your feelings in a positive way. And to those responding to those comments – those favoring an All Lives Matter movement – I thank you for being civil and understanding of the opinions of others. Constructive dialogue is healthy.

I feel the sheriff of Baton Rouge said it best during a press conference on Sunday afternoon, “This isn’t about gun control. This is about a man’s heart. If we do not come together and heal together as a nation, surely this nation will perish.”

He’s right….the hatred has to stop. The use of unnecessary deadly force by police officers against innocent people of any color is wrong and totally unacceptable. Those law enforcement officers found guilty need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent. Likewise, retaliation against members of the law enforcement community is totally unacceptable. It serves absolutely no purpose. What type of nation would we live in if our law enforcement officers stop working in fear for their lives?

It’s only through peace and unity that we will find healing, much like what was seen and heard in Ahoskie on July 10 where, “red and yellow, black and white, we are all precious in God’s sight.”

If we follow those words and believe that all lives do indeed matter, then maybe there’s a chance we can reverse our current course and cancel our current reservations with the Devil.


Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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