Friday July 08, 2016

Dallas shooting: 'I can't believe it didn't happen earlier,' says former Baltimore police sergeant

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Five police officers are dead after a sniper attack on a peaceful protest against police violence Thursday night  in Dallas. Twelve officers and two civilians were shot. Three suspects are in police custody, according to Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. A fourth suspect died following a police standoff.

The violence broke out Thursday evening while people gathered to demonstrate against the fatal police shootings of black men this week in Baton Rouge, La., and St. Paul, Minn. 

'I can't believe it didn't happen earlier when we as a policing institution aren't seeking justice and we're not protecting black lives.' - Former Sgt. with the Baltimore police, Michael Wood

Michael Wood, a former sergeant with the Baltimore police department tells The Current's host Mike Finnerty the Dallas shootings don't shock him in the least. 

"My surprise level on this is absolutely zero. I can't believe it didn't happen earlier when we as a policing institution aren't seeking justice and we're not protecting black lives," Wood says.

"I'm befuddled and angry that we continue to treat our citizens this way and we act surprised when our country exercises the Second Amendment rights which are ludicrous."

Carol Anderson says she was "shocked" but also numb to the news. The author of White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide tells Finnerty how violence negates a real solution to the tensions of race relations in the U.S.

"It's this kind of reaffirmation of this reach to violence that does not solve this underlying issue," Anderson says. "I think we are at a crossroads. We are at a critical moment in American society." 

APTOPIX Police Shootings Protests Dallas

A Dallas Area Rapid Transit police officer receives comfort at the Baylor University Hospital, July 7, 2016. (Ting Shen/The Dallas Morning News via Associated Press)

The gunman who died following a standoff with Dallas police said he "wanted to kill white people, especially white police officers," Dallas police Chief David Brown told reporters. 

The gunman, whose name has not been released, also told officers he was angry about the recent spate of police shootings, and that he was not affiliated with any other group. 

'History would pretty much tell us, that we'll talk about this for three or four days and then something new will come up and no one will really give a s**t.' - Michael Wood, former Baltimore police sergeant

The ongoing tension of race relations in the U.S. has led to this moment, says Wood.

"This is where we are going to end up in a state of confrontation where we've created this Us vs. Them … This is the logical result that should have been anticipated."

It's that anticipation that Wood brings up more than once with Finnerty, a point that is clearly a frustration for the police sergeant.

"It's kind of like the general feeling is hands up. We know this. I just simply don't understand why anyone is surprised. This is the system. This is the path," Wood says.

dallas shooting calm crowd

Police attempt to calm the crowd as someone is arrested following the sniper shooting in Dallas, July 7, 2016. (AFP/Getty Images)

The former sergeant believes reforming the police system should come from citizens, a civilian-led policing model. But he's skeptical any change will happen.

"History would pretty much tell us, that we'll talk about this for three or four days and then something new will come up and no one will really give a s**t." 

Moving forward to create change is not an easy fix but Anderson says that to diffuse a "dangerous moment" like this one,people must avoid the "dark place" of hatred and not allow "divide and conquer." She tells Finnerty that addressing the tension and racism starts with "We."

"We have the power to stop this violence. We have the power to bring dignity into policing. We have the power to respect lives in the United States.... it's going to be that language and that activism toward the We and the respect of life that is going to be how we conquer this."

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this web post. 

This segment was produced by The Current's Josh Bloch and Kathleen Goldhar.