This week has been difficult for me to process. On Tuesday and Wednesday, two more black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, were shot and killed by police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota. As I struggle to balance my emotional reactions to these tragedies with the need to let the investigations take their course, I cannot ignore one fact: people of color in our country, particularly black men, keep getting shot by police officers. This is not a new phenomenon, but with the widespread use of video technology, all Americans can see it now with their own eyes.
Then last night we watched in horror as a targeted hate crime was carried out against Dallas police officers who were simply doing their job to protect peaceful protesters. Once again, gun violence destroyed families and ripped communities apart.
At the same time as the Dallas attack, our Seattle police officers escorted and protected peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters on our streets. It is no secret tensions exist between the police and communities of color, but that does not stop our officers from providing this fundamental protection of democracy. It does not stop them from patrolling our neighborhoods day and night to keep all of us safe. These officers deserve our respect and gratitude and, in the aftermath of last night’s terror, our encouragement and support. They also deserve to be held to a high standard of behavior. I believe strong support and robust accountability go hand in hand.
Moving forward, let us continue the hard work of restoring relationships between our police officers and all our communities, for the sake of everyone’s safety. Let’s make certain that we continue forward with our reforms of the police department, strengthen civilian control and oversight, and keep building public trust and confidence in our officers.