CINCINNATI -- Black Lives Matter Cincinnati, planning to hold a march Sunday in downtown Cincinnati, called the deaths of five Dallas officers "a sad and unfortunate circumstance" and criticized those "sniffing for a link" between the movement and the killings.
Sunday's march, planned to begin at 4 p.m. outside Cincinnati Police Department headquarters, comes in response to the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, black men killed by police in Louisiana and Minnesota respectively.
Late Thursday night, a gunman ambushed and killed five officers at a similar protest march in Dallas. The killer, Micah Xavier Johnson, acted alone and wasn't affiliated with any group, Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown said. Brown also said Johnson told negotiators before he died that he was upset about recent police shootings and wanted to kill white people, particularly white officers.
"Our movement had nothing to do with the shooting of these officers," Friday night's statement from Black Lives Matter Cincinnati said.
EDITORIAL: Speak up for peace
The group said anyone responsible for the Dallas killings "will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, whereas this is not the case for police officers who murder black people." And it blamed police and "the racist system in which we live" for producing a "violent social climate."
"If the police and the courts continue to not indict or jail cops who beat and murder black people, people not organized into a disciplined movement like ours and many others across the country — at some point — will start taking matters into their own hands," the group's statement said.
Black Lives Matter Cincinnati also expressed fear that "procop (sic) legislators" would try to use the Dallas killings to "clamp down on democratic rights and demonize social struggle activists."
Over the past year, the group has organized several marches and protests to bring attention to police brutality and demand justice and accountability. The events have been largely peaceful, and participants point out the Black Lives Matter movement isn't rooted in violence.
"A lot of people feel like Black Lives Matter is a hate group, and it's no where close to that," said Thaddeus Walls, 29, who has attended several local Black Lives Matter events.
In light of the Dallas killings, CPD Lt. Steve Saunders said the city is aware of Sunday's rally and that the police department plans to have additional officers on hand.
Read Black Lives Matter Cincinnati's full statement below:
Black Lives Matter Cincinnati Statement on Police Brutality and Recent Events in Dallas
For Immediate Release:
Media Contact: BlackLivesCincy@gmail.com
On July 7, five police officers were reportedly killed by a sniper in Dallas, Texas. Law enforcement, media outlets, and elected officials are sniffing for a link between these deaths and the women and men organizing actions across the country to condemn police brutality for the killing of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
Our movement had nothing to do with the shooting of these officers.
We organize disciplined mass actions to bring the weight of the majority to bear in our struggle for justice. We know that there are millions of people in the United States that are fed up with unchecked police brutality. Fed up with countless cases where police are found not guilty or, in some cases, never even have to stand trial for their crimes. Black Lives Matter Cincinnati seeks to channel this anger and desire for change into a movement of unified action.
We recognize it is a sad and unfortunate circumstance for the families of the police officers who were killed. However, we are sure that the person(s) responsible for killing these officers will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, whereas this is not the case for police officers who murder black people.
We also point out that the violent social climate we live in is produced by the police and the racist system in which we live. Undoubtedly procop legislators will try to use it to clamp down on democratic rights and demonize social struggle activists.
If the police and the courts continue to not indict or jail cops who beat and murder black people, people not organized into a disciplined movement like ours and many others across the country — at some point — will start taking matters into their own hands. The State has created a powder keg, and each Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Quandavier Hicks and Sam Dubose is a spark the powers that be are tossing at it. In this spirit we will proceed with our rally as planned, Sunday at 4pm in front of District 1 to continue to raise awareness, build coalitions, and advance the work to build a just world free of state violence.