On Sept. 12, an unidentified gunman shot two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies through the window of their patrol vehicle. The perpetrator fled the scene, and now nearly $300,000 is being offered for information leading to his identification and arrest.
The surveillance video that captured the shooting is harrowing and gruesome, much like the reports that followed. The female officer, after being struck in the jaw, applied emergency aid to the other officer and radioed for help. Both officers suffered several wounds, including to the head and face, but are now in stable condition. One has been released from the hospital.
“Thanks to the prayers and the thoughts and the amazing doctors who have attended to them, it looks like they will both live, which is an absolute miracle,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told CNN Monday.
This shooting follows months of increased tensions between law enforcement and the public, mirroring a nationwide reckoning with racism in American institutions. Changes will require continued focus and effort on behalf of government officials and the public. Acts of violence only impede that progress.
Public showings of vitriol — like attempting to block the emergency entrance and exits of the hospital where the officers were treated — are likewise outrageous and counterproductive. They overshadow both the dignity of the officers and the nonviolent calls for reform throughout the country. The vast majority of Black Lives Matter protests this summer — 93% — have been peaceful.
Recognizing the injustice of the shooting — and praying for the full recovery of these two officers — is not political, nor is it contrary to seeking justice and feeling outrage for Jacob Blake, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and other victims of police brutality in recent months.
The shooting amplifies the fact that our nation’s police bravely take an oath to serve and protect the public, and often do so in the face of danger. Earlier this summer, an Ogden police officer was shot through a front door while responding to a domestic violence call. Recognizing the intense job they are called to do should not be a partisan issue.
“Anyone that doesn’t respect life is actually going against everything we are protesting for — that lives matter,” said Dr. Michael J. Fisher, senior pastor of The Greater Zion Church Family in Compton. Other local faith leaders and activists led prayer groups for the wounded officers and pleaded for unity.
Both challengers in this year’s presidential election — incumbent President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden — condemned the Los Angeles County shooting. Others, like former NFL star Ryan Clark, took to Twitter to express frustration. “This can’t happen. We can’t fight evil with evil,” he tweeted. “We can’t fight hate with hate, nor violence with violence. We all want solutions, we all want equality but we don’t create a larger divide. Let’s work together moving forward.” Other professional athletes and influential celebrities — like the Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell — retweeted his statement.
Injustice is prevalent. Fighting for equality is a work in which all should be engaged. But cowardly attacks and unprovoked violence have no place in that march for justice.