The ambush-style shooting Saturday evening of two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies as they sat in their patrol car at the L.A. Metro station in Compton was cruel and disgusting, as were the words that some demonstrators reportedly shouted outside St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, where the two deputies were being treated.
Witnesses said some in the crowd outside the hospital shouted, “Death to police” and “Kill the police.” The Sheriff’s Department tweeted that some shouted, “We hope they die,” and blocked the hospital’s emergency entrances.
At this time, there is no evidence connecting the attack to killings of Black people around the country by police officers. But tensions over those killings, and the protests that have followed, make the mental juxtaposition of the events unavoidable.
Earlier in the day, hundreds of protesters demanded justice for Dijon Kizzee, a Black man who was riding a bicycle when sheriff’s deputies attempted to stop him for a vehicle code violation. They shot him dead, and the supposed violation still has not been explained.
The shooting of the deputies and the cruel chants at the hospital, it should go without saying, do nothing to further the investigation of Kizzee’s killing. Or to explain the fatal shooting of Andres Guardado by deputies in June. Or to alter the law enforcement practices that led to the deaths.
They add nothing of value to the argument over the proper role of armed law enforcement agents in patrolling Metro or other transit systems.
Neither do they justify the deputies’ arrest of KPCC reporter Josie Huang, who was covering the scene at the hospital. Huang appears to have been simply doing her job.
Nor was anything useful added by President Trump, who ghoulishly tweeted: “If they die, fast trial death penalty for the killer.”
Thankfully, the deputies have not died.
The nation, in desperate need of cooler heads and an end to a season of death, must for the present make its way with neither. We have in our hands the power to destroy ourselves and one another, and we seem bent on exercising it.
In the meantime, though, the quest for justice must continue, however plodding it may be, however dull it may seem when compared with protests, killings and presidential tweets. The hunt for the deputies’ shooter must continue. If a suspect is caught and tried, the proceedings should be conducted with truth and fairness. Law enforcement practices must be scrutinized and, where needed, corrected. Racism must be acknowledged and combated. Our communities, our people, must get a chance to breathe.