A sniper killed five Dallas officers and injured 7 more cops and two civilians at a Black Lives Matter protest to denounce police brutality on Thursday night.
The identities of the snipers are unknown, though one suspect is dead and another is in custody. Dallas police have not yet said if anyone else was involved.
Shots were first fired between 8:45 and 9 p.m., as many protesters were heading home from the downtown Dallas march.
According to Stacey Brown, 30, and Bianca Avery, 34, the rally wasn't violent before the attack. “This was peaceful. This was peaceful,” Brown told the Dallas Morning News. “We were headed back to our cars to go home. But we turned that corner [at Main Street] and all hell broke loose.”
Another demonstrator, 18-year-old Brianna Mason, said she also saw police officers shooting into the crowd. “I thought it was unacceptable,” she told the paper. “That needs to be brought to attention of people. But the police – they’re just going to change the topic.”
She continued, while seeking shelter at a nearby Greyhound bus station: “I just hope I don’t lose my life tonight.”
Black Lives Matter, who organized the demonstration after officers took the lives of African-American men Alton Sterling and Philando Castile this week, rejected any ties to the killing, tweeting that their movement is one of “dignity, justice and freedom.”
#BlackLivesMatter advocates dignity, justice and freedom. Not murder.
— Black Lives Matter (@Blklivesmatter) July 8, 2016
Still, politicians have used the attack to push for a "war" against the racial justice movement. In what can be interpreted as a threat, former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh tweeted, and then deleted after much backlash, "This is now war. Watch out Obama. Watch out black lives matter punks. Real America is coming after you."
It must be noted that protests like the one in Dallas are occurring across the country because of the very real war already taking place in this country against Black and brown bodies.
In 2016, 33 officers were fatally shot. In contrast, cops have killed 566 people this year, most of them Black, Latinx and Native-American. As the Revelist's Evette Dionne said, "being a cop is still safer than being Black."
Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump also responded to the killings, calling them “an attack on our country.”
“It is a coordinated, premeditated assault on the men and women who keep us safe,” Trump said in a statement. “We must restore law and order. We must restore the confidence of our people to be safe and secure in their homes and on the street.”
Under Texas' open carry law, anyone with a permit to wield a gun is allowed to so openly, a right that pro-gun rights advocates like both politicians support and one that further complicates Thursday night's attack.