Baton Rouge police officer Montrell Jackson is dead from Gavin Long’s bullet.
Jackson is Black. And Long is Black.
Long is a cold-blooded murderer who ambushed Jackson and several other police officers Sunday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Long killed two other cops and wounded a few others.
It was a senseless, cowardly act. Long, 29, a former Marine, was shooting at anyone dressed in a blue uniform. While in the military, he received several awards, including the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal.
But he was no hero.
Long, who served in Iraq and was honorably discharged, was targeting cops because he was angry about the recent police shootings of Alton Sterling, who was shot to death in Baton Rouge, and Philando Castile, shot and killed by a police officer in suburban Minnesota.
Both shootings, captured on video, were unnecessary, horrific and unjustified. The families of Sterling and Castile need — and deserve — justice.
But violence isn’t the answer to violence. Long’s rampage follows the shooting deaths of five police officers in Dallas, Texas last week. Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, who was also served in the military, used an assault rifle to murder police officers.
I’m angry about the shooting deaths of Sterling and Castile — this quick-on-the-trigger police culture must end — but I’m also angry about Johnson and Long ambushing innocent, unsuspecting police officers several of whom were devoted family men and fathers.
This is a disturbing pattern among young Black men who are experiencing tremendous hate and rage as well as many who suffer from untreated mental illness. This toxic combination has caused some of them to pick up assault weapons and shoot police. I hope this horrific trend ends in Baton Rouge.
President Barack Obama, for the second time in two weeks, talked about fallen police officers killed by men filled with rage.
“It is so important that everyone … right now focus on words and actions that can unite this country rather than divide it further,” Obama told reporters at the White House.
“We don’t need inflammatory rhetoric. We don’t need careless accusations thrown around to score political points or to advance an agenda,” Obama said. “We need to temper our words and open our hearts, all of us.”
“Nothing justifies violence against law enforcement,” he added.
Marcus Tillman, a former Baton Rouge police officer who was once Jackson’s partner, said he fell to his knees when he heard Jackson was dead.
“I’ve never cried that hard in my life,” Tillman told NBC News. “Honestly, it felt like my soul was being yanked out.”
Two weeks before Jackson was killed, he posted an emotional testimonial on Facebook to explain his views of being a Black cop in America.
“I’ve experienced so much in my short life and the past 3 days have tested me to the core,” Jackson, 32, wrote. “I swear to God I love this city but I wonder if this city loves me. In uniform I get nasty hateful looks and out of uniform some consider me a threat.”
“Please don’t let hate infect your heart. This city MUST and WILL get better,” he said. “I’m working in these streets so any protesters, officers, friends, family, or whoever, if you see me and need a hug or want to say a prayer I got you.”
Jackson, who was married, was on the force for 10 years and was the father of a 4-month-old son.
Long, a Black man, shot and killed Officer Jackson, a Black man. And Obama, a Black man, is calling for calm while trying to help a racially divided nation heal from acts of violence on our own people, by our own people.
Americans are afraid of terrorism touching our lives, but sometimes, in cases like in Dallas and Baton Rouge, the terrorists are us.