In commemorating the one year anniversary of the July 7, 2016 attack in Dallas, Texas and reflecting on what has changed since that evening. Unfortunately, today we are more vulnerable to domestic terrorist attacks than ever before because of an overt unwillingness to challenge the status-quo, political correctness, and a naive reluctance to acknowledge the influences of social media in the proliferation of radicalism online. The recent “ambush-style” attacks on the Louisiana congressman and the police officer at the Flint airport are prime examples of the escalating violence being facilitated by online radicalization; both illustrate our nation’s susceptibility to radicalized attacks.
Reflecting on that surreal 2016 phone call that exposed me to our nation’s vulnerabilities – the caller said “Sarge, turn on the news! You have to get to the hospital ASAP; two officers were shot and they are 27” (code for deceased). My heart raced as news coverage validated that the attack occurred during the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest. Once at the hospital, my fears were actualized, five of my colleagues had been murdered in one episode. This was the greatest loss of law enforcement life in a single incident since 9/11. I was traumatized by the horrific scene – images that will forever be etched into my memory. In the succeeding days, support campaigns emerged signifying a sense of unity throughout the country. Conversely, some politicians seized the opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to BLM’s agenda, while others introduced discussions about Black marginalization and flawed arguments on police brutality as an epidemic. This skewed narrative spread through social media like wildfire – even causing some police leaders to make concessions to BLM’s radical demands.
While still mourning the loss of my friends, I pondered the conundrum of moral ineptness outlined in President Obama’s speech at the police officers’ memorial. He lectured the audience on how Blacks had an innate fear of being targeted and brutalized by police, as if that were somehow a consoling message to the families of the fallen officers. In that moment of discontent, I had an epiphany. Based on years of research, I theorized that either the politicians didn’t understand BLM’s well-funded radical agenda to destabilize the country or they were complicit; either way the nation was at risk. BLM’s platform was more dangerous than other movement in recent years because its leaders understood the connectivity of social media and how to exploit the fears of the Black community using police brutality to garner support for a grassroots opposition against police – an optimization that would take the government time to grasp and counter. Understanding this phenomenon, I filed of a series of lawsuits in hopes of exposing the movement and protecting the lives of police officers across the country. The first lawsuit was filed against BLM and others who incited violence against police. The second lawsuit was filed against social media companies Facebook, Google and Twitter for providing material support to domestic and international terrorist groups – drawing the connection between BLM and Pro-Palestinian radical groups like Hamas in revealing how they shared intelligence and funding through social media. While BLM has remained somewhat docile since the case filings, on the heels of many of the lawsuits being dismissed on technicalities, there have been re-emergence of efforts to legitimize the movement in preparation for perceived adverse court rulings involving police shootings.
So, when people ask, what has changed since the Dallas tragedy of July 7th– the answer is “absolutely nothing.” The persistent problems include: (1) police are still vulnerable to attacks as openly promoted by BLM and other subversive groups on social media; (2) Congress still has not created a comprehensive cyber-intelligence policy to sanction certain online behaviors such as piracy, cyber-terrorism and online radicalization, nor has Congress formally established new regulatory guidelines for social media accountability; and (3) ACLU continues to exert its artful political influence, essentially establishing public policy, by filing lawsuits against police agencies for using online surveillance tools to track criminal activity and by defending criminals for attacking police during riots – all under the guise of protecting civil liberties, their perversion of jurisprudence that has remain unabated and unchallenged in the courts.
Our philosophies must adapt to the existing paradigm! Our government cannot continue to use first generation defenses to address second generation threats to national security. An appropriate balance must be found in understanding how to mitigate harm and collaborate private sector technology with government resources to protect this nation from terrorist threats – companies like GIPEC have proven their worth by exposing the online terrorism that Facebook, Google and Twitter have been unable to control. Additionally, our legislators can no longer be indecisive in determining how to address online radicalization because of confusion in what constitutes “free speech”. Prior to the Dallas shooting, all social media platforms were warned about a violent image resembling a police officer being executed by an ISIS fighter trending with the nefarious hashtags #BlackLivesMatter, #KillPolice, and #F*ck12. Consequently, the social media companies concluded that neither the image nor hashtags violated their “community standards,” despite that fact that the content was intended to radicalize people to attack police. Regretfully, this radicalized influence led to the Dallas and Baton Rouge shooting attacks.
As a nation, we have grown accustomed to holding memorials on the anniversary dates of tragedies, but this July 7th must serve as a wake-up call for our nation’s leaders to devise real solutions to protect our police and eradicate terrorism from our society.
Demetrick Pennie, M.A., Ed.D.