Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called protesters who ran away from the hail of bullets that rained down on Downtown Dallas on Thursday night "hypocrites" during an interview Friday on Fox News. "All those protesters last night, they turned around and ran the other way expecting the men and women in blue to protect them. What hypocrites!" an audibly emotional Patrick said.
There have been some ugly exceptions, but in general, the reactions from elected officials to yesterday's mass shooting in Dallas, which left five police officers dead, have been largely responsible. But reading this Dallas Morning News article, it's seems one of Texas' top officials has gone off in his own unfortunate direction.
To his credit, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued a measured statement, calling for unity and calm, which made it all the more alarming to see Patrick go in a radically different direction.
In fact, as the Morning News' report makes clear, Texas' lieutenant governor blamed Black Lives Matter protesters for the violence against police and said people "with big mouths are creating situations like we saw last night."
Patrick wasn't subtle: "I do blame people on social media with their hatred toward police. I do blame former Black Lives Matter protests.... This has to stop."
I can appreciate the fact that emotions are running hot and some are going to react to tragic violence without thinking things through. We generally look to elected officials and people in positions of authority to be level-headed at times like this, but from time to time, their emotions get the better of them. It's a shame.
But when Dan Patrick takes a moment to reflect on his comments this morning, I hope he realizes how ridiculous they were. For example, Black Lives Matter protests are not anti-police; they're gatherings intended to protest excessive and unnecessary police violence towards African-American communities nationwide. This really isn't that complicated.
Look at his quote again: "All those protesters last night, they turned around and ran the other way expecting the men and women in blue to protect them. What hypocrites!"
Running away from a crazed gunman, looking to the police for protection, does not make someone a hypocrite -- even if you're protesting undue violence at the hands of law enforcement. I wrote a piece in April arguing that a few too many conservatives literally seem confused about the meaning of the word "hypocrisy," and Patrick's quote seems to reinforce the point.
Texas' lieutenant governor may be surprised to learn that leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement have spoken out today to condemn the shooting. In fact, the Rev. Dominique Alexander, who helped organize last night's protest in Dallas, did the same.
"We echo the words of President Obama yesterday when he stated, that because black lives matter, it does not mean blue lives do not matter," Alexander, the president of the Next Generation Action Network, said at a press conference. "With that being said, we condemn the actions that took lives of five officers and wounded seven. We sincerely thank the Dallas Police Department and the D.A.R.T. police for assisting us with our protest. We understand that although officers volunteered to risk their lives, they certainly do not deserve to die."