Marchers, about 50 strong which would grow to a couple hundred, walked from Founder's Square, down the right lane of Main Street, to Main Street Garden last night in protest of police brutality, which in Dallas and nationwide disproportionately affects blacks. Chants of "indict, convict, put those killer cops in jail, the whole damn system is guilty as hell" and "this is what a police state looks like" filled downtown, as well as sirens from the marchers' police escorts. One man in a T-shirt with the Dallas Police Department logo shouted "go police" from the sidewalk as he watched the marchers.
A who's who of the Dallas anti-police brutality movement was there: Collette Flanagan, who founded Mothers Against Police Brutality after police shot and killed her son, Clinton Allen; Charles Goodson, of the Huey P. Newton Gun Club that recently delivered a report on police shootings to the U.S. Attorney's Office; and Kooper Karaway, of the Indigenous People's Liberation Party that helped the Gun Club deliver the report.
Also, members of Dallas Communities Organizing for Change, which compiled the delivered report, attended. Women wearing yellow "Standing on the Side of Love" T-shirts, a cause tied to the Unitarian Universalist Church, walked with men in ACLU T-shirts. Black men in black fatigues -- Black Panthers -- marched alongside an old white woman. A couple people wore Cop Block shirts. David Harrison, whose brother Jason police shot and killed this summer and whose father recently sued the city over it, was downtown, too.
The mix of races, ages and groups (and a few residents of Ferguson, Missouri) didn't surprise Caraway, the march's organizer.
"The police bother everybody," he said. "The police harass everybody. The police kill everybody. Very rarely will you find someone who feels safe and secure when they see a cop pull up behind them. Usually, it's a fear or an anxiety. We have libertarians, we have socialists, communists, Democrats. We got Republicans out here. The police are really not making any friends. They're able to catalyze this grouping of people that in any other situation would not happen. But you do because the police are abusing and harassing the whole population."
Flanagan, the founder of Mothers Against Police Brutality, agreed.
"I think people are just fed up as a whole," she said. "I think this is the one thing that's bringing everybody together, you know, unjustified murders, the culture of the police department, a DA who will not indict but asking people to vote for him again."
DA Craig Watkins' office has indicted officers, but a grand jury did not choose to indict the officer who shot Flanagan's son. No police officers have been convicted.
After the marching, several speakers, one after one another, grabbed a megaphone as people gathered in a semicircle on Main Street Garden's east end. The first speaker, John Fullerwinder of Mothers Against Police Brutality, compared the police reaction to Clinton Allen, Jason Harrison, Andrew Gaynier and Douglas Leguin. Police shot and killed the first three, but Leguin was not harmed after a confrontation that involved a SWAT team.
"An old white guy," Fullerwinder told the crowd, "older than me, was in North Dallas on Frankford Road. He's firing an automatic rifle at firemen. He's firing an automatic rifle at the police who responded to the call. This man is so insane he thinks he's setting up the kingdom of Dougistan. That's his name. Do the police call in a sharp shooter team and take him out?"
The crowd shouted no.
"Do the guys go around and say, 'Hey, drop it or we'll shoot him,' and then shoot him five times, once in the back? No. They talk him down," Fullerwinder said. "They do what you're supposed to do when you're facing a mentally ill person acting in an aberrant manner. They talk him down because why? They value that life. They didn't know which rich family that nut belonged to so they had to value his life."
The nut in question, actually, does not belong to any rich family.
Flanagan, the founder of Mothers Against Police Brutality, said protests like this were here to stay. While that remains to be seen, Flanagan said she wants politicians to start talking about police brutality. More important, though, she wants to change Dallas' culture that she believes doesn't pay attention to police shootings.
"We've learned to accept it," she said. "You hear about someone getting killed and we just go, 'Oh well.' Nobody raises a ruckus about it. That has got to stop. When you don't step up to the plate, say, 'Wait a minute, this is wrong,' you don't hold law enforcement accountable."
She believes there's a culture in the Dallas Police Department that fosters shootings and then protects those who do it. She also doesn't believe it when officers say they fear for their lives when they shoot.
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"How many more [people will be shot]? This 'I fear for my life' is just a free get-out-of-jail card," she said. "You fear for your life, what, after the first shot, second shot, third shot, fourth shot, fifth shot, sixth shot, seventh shot. It's bullshit. We have to say no more, you're not going to murder and mangle our children."
Watch a video of the march below.
Send your story tips to the author, Sky Chadde.