Opposing the Militarization of Police in Urban Areas
Dallas Morning News Architecture Critic Mark Lamster wrestles with a task facing community leaders in cities all over the world: how to reckon with a past and present defined by institutional racism while protecting people and property.
In an experience mirrored in cities all over the country over the past two weeks, day time hours in Dallas in the past week have been marked by peaceful protest and even a few joyful celebrations of events like graduations and businesses reopening while the night time has been filled filled with violent clashes between police and protestors and destructive acts like arson and looting.
Lamster doesn't generalize about the motivations of protestors, or conflate the righteous indignation of protesters under the same banners as the people who have been indiscriminately looting and destroying property. But he does call for the de-escalation of the conflict, and for a few fundamental characteristics of democracy and peace to be restored:
I refuse to accept violence and destruction against persons and property. I refuse to accept the militarization of public space. I refuse to accept the characterization of the city, in the words of Defense Secretary Mark Esper, as a “battle space.” I refuse to accept the idea that our city and state leaders must “dominate” our streets with military force, as President Donald Trump demanded in a phone call with governors and other officials.
Lamster expresses sympathy for some of the people who have been manifesting anger with the destruction of private and public property—that destruction representing "a tragic breakdown of the American social compact." But the main purpose of the missive is to draw a line—several lines really—in the sand for police and protestors, as more facts and details about how and why these protests have turned violent are revealed.