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Dallas Shooting Adds To Pessimism On Social Media


We're following events in Dallas this morning after five police officers were killed by snipers during a demonstration that had been held in response to police shootings - fatal shootings - in Minnesota and Louisiana. Gene Demby of NPR's Code Switch team has been following the reaction to all this on social media. He joins me now in the studio. Good morning, Gene.

GENE DEMBY, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.

MARTIN: What are you seeing out there? What are people saying?

DEMBY: It's really, really glum and really pessimistic. There was already a lot of fatigue I think coming into - before the incidents of last night around what happened in Minneapolis and what happened in Baton Rouge. There were a lot of people sort of saying, you know, we don't to watch these videos. We're already sort of fatigued with this genre - this very dark genre of story.

MARTIN: We should say that in these incidents, I mean, the people who were there, they capture them on cellphone videos and they go viral and...

DEMBY: Absolutely, and we've seen, you know, that trajectory that that happened, you know, dozens of times...


DEMBY: ...In the last few years. And so especially on social media, where these stories tend to generate, where they begin, a lot of people are up close and personal. And so this time around, we see a lot of people saying, like, we didn't have to watch these videos. And there's a lot of resignation I think around the way these stories end, a lot of - for people who want to see some kind of prosecution of the police. I think there's, like, less of a sense that there will be some sort of outcome that's - that they find favorable.


DEMBY: And so there was that resignation and that fatigue already happening. And then, you know, there's the shooting of last night, which I think only sort of exacerbated people's sort of pessimism.

MARTIN: Yeah, so we heard the police chief in Dallas take great pains to underscore the fact that one of the suspects said he was a lone wolf. He was - didn't use that word, but he was...

DEMBY: Sure.

MARTIN: ...A sole actor, not affiliated with any group. And that's important because this happened at a demonstration of Black Lives Matter - related demonstration.

DEMBY: Sure.

MARTIN: Is there a fear that an incident like this could lead to misperceptions about the movement?

DEMBY: There were a lot of people on Twitter who were expressly worried about that. And they were also worried about the fact that police might be even more fearful and feel more antagonized and the way that might play out in their encounters with people of color going forward. But one of the problems with - in any discussion about Black Lives Matter is sort of this misunderstanding of what Black Lives Matter - how it's organized. It's not centralized. There's no sort of set hierarchy. And so, you know, anyone can sort of claim affiliation with them. But also, anyone who has broad sympathies with their platform was who wants to reduce sort of police violence gets lumped into Black Lives Matter. In fact, I'm not even sure that this rally - there was a gentleman on the ground who spoke to The Dallas Morning News who said that his organization organized this protest.

MARTIN: There were a lot of different groups who were there...

DEMBY: Absolutely.

MARTIN: ...Yeah.

DEMBY: And so - but it's being called a Black Lives Matter rally. And so that shorthand sort of complicates and flattens sort of the dimensions of the story in a way - in a lot of ways.

MARTIN: Gene Demby of NPR's Code Switch team. We'll be checking in with you throughout the day, I'm sure, on this. Thank you so much.

DEMBY: Thank you so much, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Gene Demby is the co-host and correspondent for NPR's Code Switch team.