ITHACA, N.Y. — Thursday night in Dallas Texas, several snipers shot at least 10 police officers and at least one civilian during what was meant to be a peaceful protest against the police shootings of two black men in Louisiana and Minnesota earlier this week. Five officers have died from their injuries.
The Dallas Morning News, reporting what it was like in the city the morning after the shooting, interviewed a waitress who frequently serves police officers during her shifts at a diner.
The woman said she’d retreated into a bubble and not read or watched any news about the shooting before or during her shift.
“We’ll see what it’s like when the sun rises,” she said, noting that she’d catch up on the news after work.
In Ithaca, Police Chief John Barber, who watched the news of the shootings unfold from Thursday into the early morning hours Friday, said the murders were taken into consideration as officers to plan attend the Black Lives Matter march and rally happening in Ithaca Friday afternoon.
He said, “My goal for today is to protect those who are participating in the protest and to also keep the officers safe.”
Barber has met with officers and emailed them words of encouragement and caution in regard to policing.
“The mood is somber here at the police department. It’s a stark reminder of the dangers associates with this profession,” he said.
But he said he also understands that the people at the rally will be emotionally charged due to the officer involved shooting that happened this week — occurrences that happened on top of a national spotlight on police shootings.
“I condemn any police brutality and we need to take care of each other,” he said about the community.
During a trip to Washington D.C. this week, Barber said that he and about 40 police chiefs from around the country were gathered to participate in a briefing with Senior Administration Officials on the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing Initiative.
At the meeting, chiefs were told that they were selected to attend the briefing because they represent police agencies with progressive leadership.
Barber said, “It made me feel proud because we are a progressive police department, and we do recognize the importance of community engagement and connecting with the people we serve to build a community of one.”
He said IPD has initiated outreach programs since he’s been chief to help bridge the gap between officers and the public. Many of those initiatives were also highlighted in an open letter from Mayor Svante Myrick about the recent shootings, which was published Thursday.
Barber plans to be at the local rally Friday and he said he will be listening to people’s concerns.
“I think we need to have more conversations. My door is always open my phone is always on and I will speak to anybody who has concerns or idea about how to improve our relationships here in the community,” he said.
Barber can be reached at JBarber@cityofithaca.org, or by calling the police station at 607-272-9973.
The featured photo is courtesy of a woman in Dallas who said her daughter was receiving a white flower from a police officer about 15 minutes before the shooting started. It’s being used in this story with her permission.