Dallas PD’s violent response to peaceful protests in Botham Jean shooting

Botham Shem Jean. Photo: Facebook/Bothan Shem Jean

In the history of the civil rights struggle, getting Black cops to police Black citizens has been a frequent demand. As a result, over the last few decades, America has seen its share of police chiefs in major urban cities and many Black citizens held the hope that policing would be a more just and equal process.  Unfortunately, this hope has been an unrealistic one, as Black cops and Black police officials continue to show that they can be equal opportunity oppressors.  This can be seen in Dallas, under the leadership of Police Chief U. Renee Hall, who became the first Black woman to run the department in 2017.

In the aftermath of the shooting death of Botham Sean Jean by allegedly confused off-duty Dallas police officer Amber Renee Guyger, who entered his apartment in error, the city is in crisis. It did not help that the arrest warrant was delayed because Guyger was “cooperating” in the investigation. Neither is the fact that Guyger has stated that she shot Jean in the chest when he failed to listen to her verbal commands in the darkened apartment she entered in error. But what is hurting the community is the heavy-handed force the Dallas Police Department is using on peaceful, mostly Black protestors.

On Monday, as protesters gathered outside police headquarters and marched down the street, they were met with officers on horseback and some in riot gear. The protestors were not throwing items, only raising their voices in righteous indignation over the shooting death of Botham Jean.

In response, Dallas police pulled riot shotguns and fired pepper bullets into the crowd of men, women, and children. The bullets are a regularly used non-lethal crowd control tool that disperses an irritant into the area and can leave a painful bruise if a person is hit directly with an unexploded shell.

Police Chief U. Renee Hall (Image Source: Dallas Police Department)

But, apparently, Chief Hall was unaware of how her command was going to react to the peaceful protestors. In fact, judging by her response, she was not at the scene nor was she monitoring the most volatile situation to affect Dallas in recent memory. After news of the police response was received by Chief Hall, she issued the following statement:

“I am concerned to learn of reports that one of our officers deployed potentially several pepper balls during a demonstration last night. I have asked our investigative unit to conduct a full review. The use of pepper balls is governed by our General Orders, and they are only to be utilized if instructed to do so by the on-scene commander or if there is an immediate threat to the public. I plan to meet directly with the leadership of the demonstration to address their concerns.”

Video of the police response can be seen below:

Mo Barnes
Mo Barnes

Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician. He has been writing for Rolling Out since 2014. Whether it means walking through a bloody police shooting to help a family find justice or showing the multifaceted talent of the Black Diaspora I write the news.