Jesse Jackson: After Dallas And Baton Rouge, We Need Action

Jesse Jackson

Rev. Jesse Jackson speaks to friends and family during the funeral of Alton Sterling at Southern University on July 15, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Sterling was shot by a police officer in front of the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge on July 5th, leading the Department of Justice to open a civil rights investigation. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

After speaking at the funeral Alton Sterling last weekend, Rev. Jesse Jackson penned the following statement on July 17 released by Rainbow Push Coaliton:

As the Republican Party holds its national convention in Cleveland, Americans have been shaken by the shootings of police in Dallas and Baton Rouge, La., following the police shootings of black men in Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights, Minn. I spoke at the funeral of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, weeping with his family and friends, as they remembered and mourned their loved one. I spoke later at the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, leaders of the police in different communities, and witnessed their tears as they mourned the deaths of their fellow police officers in Baton Rouge.

There is a national call for mourning, for a conversation, for peace. But we need more than a conversation, more than weeping for our lost loved ones. We need common sense and action.

The police now are stupefied. They face people armed with weapons of war — assault rifles designed for battlefields, not for American street corners. There is no defense against snipers armed with such weapons. These weapons can take down planes. They can slaughter crowds. They can pick off police. Incredibly, people have the right to carry these weapons of mass destruction openly in various states.

No police chief in America supports easy access to military style weapons. They want these weapons banned. The ban used to have bipartisan support. Now the gun lobby has turned it into partisan gridlock. Those who bluster loudly that they are champions of law and order and of the police vote at the same time to allow their enemies to be armed to the teeth. But the police are crying out even as they are being buried: Protect us from these weapons.