Po­lice in Dal­las squelch dis­sent af­ter sniper at­tack

Baltimore Sun - - OBITUARIES | NATION - By Clau­dia Lauer

DAL­LAS — The day af­ter five Dal­las of­fi­cers were killed by a sniper, the city’s po­lice chief de­scribed the men as “guardians” of democ­racy, prais­ing them for pro­tect­ing the free­dom to protest at a l arge demon­stra­tion against po­lice bru­tal­ity.

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama later eu­lo­gized the slain of­fi­cers, say­ing they died while de­fend­ing essen­tial con­sti­tu­tional rights.

But nearly two months af­ter the shoot­ings, po­lice have moved to si­lence crit­ics and squelch lin­ger­ing ques­tions about the at­tack. Of­fi­cers in riot gear have been told to ticket pro­test­ers who block or dis­rupt traf­fic, and Po­lice Chief David Brown has re­fused to meet with demon­stra­tors un­less they agree to end their marches through down­town, which he says pose a threat to of­fi­cers.

Author­i­ties have also re­fused to re­lease even the most ba­sic in­for­ma­tion about the slay­ings, in­clud­ing any de­tails about the weapons used, the au­topsy find­ings and bal­lis­tics tests t hat could es­tab­lish whether any of­fi­cers were hit by friendly fire. Po­lice have in­di­cated that such in­for­ma­tion could be with­held al­most in­def­i­nitely.

In ad­di­tion, the po­lice depart­ment’s most vo­cal, vis­i­ble critic — a 27-yearold self-styled preacher with a crim­i­nal his­tory — has been ar­rested mul­ti­ple times in the last month on war­rants that in­clude un­paid traf­fic tick­ets and at­tempts to re­voke his pro­ba­tion from a 2009 felony. On Fri­day, Do­minique Alexan­der was or­dered to prison.

“Why all of a sud­den are we the target?” asked Da­mon Cren­shaw, vice pres­i­dent of the Next Gen­er­a­tion Ac­tion Net­work, which or­ga­nized the pro- test that took place on July 7, the day of the shoot­ing. “We’re not protest­ing be­cause we’re mad at them. We’re protest­ing be­cause the prob­lems still ex­ist and they won’t talk to us.”

Cren­shaw said Alexan­der was tar­geted be­cause of his protest ac­tiv­i­ties and that the shooter, Micah John­son, was not af­fil­i­ated with their group.

Alexan­der, the founder of the protest net­work, be­lieves he was tar­geted be­cause he re­fused to stop the demon­stra­tions.

“They try to hush and si­lence peo­ple,” he said. “It would be a fail­ure to the lives lost if we don’t con­tinue. The is­sues still ex­ist, and they can act like they want to heal, but then they ig­nore the is­sues.”

Mayor Mike Rawl­ings said in a state­ment that he trusts Brown’s “judg­ment in how he com­mu­ni­cates with protest or­ga­niz­ers.”

Alexan­der, whose record in­cludes con­vic­tions for forg­ing a check, evad­ing po­lice and theft, was on pro­ba­tion for a 2009 con­vic­tion for caus­ing injury to a child. He said the 2-year-old he was watch­ing had fallen off the couch, but hospi­tal staff said the child’s in­juries were more con­sis­tent with abuse.

Alexan­der spent the past two weeks un­der house ar­rest, await­ing a judge’s de­ter­mi­na­tion of whether his pro­ba­tion would be re­voked.

“No new crime has been com­mit­ted to war­rant this kind of ac­tion,” said Kim Cole, one of Alexan­der’s at­tor­neys. “And the tim­ing does ap­pear sus­pi­cious.”

Just days af­ter a July 29 silent protest, author­i­ties asked that Alexan­der’s pro­ba­tion be re­voked for a va­ri­ety of vi­o­la­tions, in­clud­ing twice leav­ing the state with­out no­ti­fy­ing his pro­ba­tion of­fi­cer. Court records show the judge ad­mon­ished Alexan­der and added 30 hours of com­mu­nity ser­vice to his sen­tence.

Then on Aug. 10, fol­low­ing a con­fronta­tional ap­pear­ance at a city coun­cil meet­ing, Alexan­der was cited for tres­pass­ing and es­corted out of City Hall, where of­fi­cers were wait­ing to ar­rest him on nine traf­fic ticket war­rants. He spent the night in jail and, within an hour of his re­lease, an­other ar­rest war­rant was is­sued in a new at­tempt to re­voke pro­ba­tion. That re­quest re­hashed pre­vi­ous al­le­ga­tions, in­clud­ing missed meet­ings with his pro­ba­tion of­fi­cer.

At Fri­day’s hear­ing, the judge con­sid­ered all of Alexan­der’s pro­ba­tion vi­o­la­tions and sent him to prison for two years. With credit for time served, that comes t o about si x months, his at­tor­neys said.

LM OTERO/AP

Do­minique Alexan­der be­lieves Dal­las po­lice tar­geted him be­cause he re­fused to stop demon­stra­tions in the city.

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