Baton Rouge police respond to shooting of fellow officers.
The murders, following the killing of five officers in Dallas, also by a black man, increased racial tensions and hatred in the United States beyond the crisis level of the 1960s, when black people were attacked and beaten across the South during their fight for civil rights.
Gavin Long’s attack on Baton Rouge police was calculated and brutal. Nevertheless, an analysis of Long’s actions, and the response of the Baton Rouge police, reveal the failure and poor procedures of the policing system that almost certainly exist in many American communities.
Had police acted differently and if policing techniques were more sophisticated in Baton Rouge, fewer police might have been killed – or the deadly confrontation might not have occurred at all.
The militarization of local police forces across the U.S. made Gavin Long, and no doubt many like him, fear and mistrust police. Many police departments now behave more like a military force, sometimes abusing people rather than acting like a community service with the goal of protecting all citizens.
Long lived in Kansas City. On July 5, he heard that a black man, Alton Sterling, had been killed in Baton Rouge for no good reason.
Later, police attested more than 100 people protesting the shooting of Sterling for allegedly blocking a highway. About 50 demonstrators were crammed into one cell.
While Long was planning his assassination trip to Baton Rouge, others had the same idea.
On July 11, police arrested three teenagers accused of stealing several handguns as part of what police called a 'substantial, credible threat' to harm police officers in the Baton Rouge area.
On July 12, Long rented a car in Kansas City and drove to Baton Rouge.
Gavin Long was a well-trained marksman and military expert. He was more than well equipped with an IWI Tavor SAR 5.56 calibre rifle, a Stag Arms M4 variant 5.56 caliber rifle, a pistol, and enough bullets to wreak havoc.
Police moved in too quickly
But how much did police know about what they were walking into?
Someone reported to police they had seen a suspicious man with a weapon. It’s unclear if police were aware of additional vital information: The person was wearing a mask and black shorts.
But just knowing there was a man on the street with a weapon -- and in view of the fact they had killed Alton Sterling just days before -- should have warned them to proceeded with great caution. But they did not.
After an officer yelled “Man down!” over his phone system, perhaps as many as eight or nine officers raced in a disorganized manner to the scene of the shooting.
Police couldn’t tell where the shots were coming from. For several hours – just like in Dallas – they thought there were three shooters. Total chaos ensued.
Meanwhile, Long shot five more officers. By the time he was caught, he apparently had thrown away his weapons. Two policemen pinned him to the ground, and then shot him six times. The officers were placed on temporary leave.
There appears to be no discussion as to whether the two officers will be charged with murder or anything else.