DALLAS - In the year since the deadly ambush on Dallas police officers, there have been far fewer marches against police treatment of minorities despite new cases of brutality, including one locally in Balch Springs.
It creates a question: what happened to the movement for black lives in the last 12 months?
"The movement has been focused on trying to put the policies and laws in place," said Dominique Alexander, Next Generation Action Network, who helped organize the protest march on July 7, 2016. “It's been successful. We have the Sandra Bland Act. We have three more critical bills that we have gotten passed,” he added.
Dallas' city manager has even asked Alexander to be among the panelists next week to interview the eight candidates for police chief.
“That night was surreal,” Alexander continued. “Of course, it was something I've never been through. It was something that I continue to pray about to this day because I want people to understand blood was already on American soil before July 7th."
"Make no mistake, after a year, these public officials have realized what the consequences are of not engaging. So, they are a lot more interested in engaging than they were a year ago, and I'm very proud of our work. I believe our work has brought that about,” explained the Rev. Dr. Jeff Hood, 33, another organizer of the July 7 protest march.
Since July 7, 2016, there are new channels of communication between social activists and elected officials, he said.
"It hasn't been a month ago, that we met with the [Dallas County] District Attorney in the Jordan Edwards case and asked for a murder charge and a murder charge is what we got. It wasn't a march. It wasn't a rally. It was a very direct conversation with a public official,” he said.
Edwards, 15, is the African-American passenger in a car who was fatally shot by a Balch Springs police officer in April. That officer, Roy Oliver, was indicted for murder.
"It does seem as so that [the movement] has dwindled down, but I believe it's more of a political approach now," said Shetamia Taylor, mother. "We've got to come together. There's no way around it.”
Taylor, who took her four sons to the protest march last year, is the only civilian who got shot that night.
"We hear a pop. Our mind didn't go to gunshots. Mine went to: 'Who is down here setting off fireworks?' That's what it went to because it was the seventh. Just a few days after the Fourth of July. Then there was a pop, pop,” she explained.
One bullet struck her in the leg.
"It's like being jabbed with a hot needle. I knew instantly. Not ever being shot myself before. Adrenaline is going and an officer came by and asked: 'Is anyone hit?' My son didn't know I was shot. He had no idea. And I'm shaking my head like yes. And [the officer] said it again, you know a little louder and I said 'Yes, sir in my leg' and my son just lost it,” Taylor said.
But she recalls one policeman who protected her and her sons.
"Officer Weatherford has this amazing East Texas drawl about him, this smooth voice to him. He's reassuring my son and myself. 'You're ok. We got you.' And I felt that. And I knew that what he was telling me was true,” remembered Taylor. "He's kneeled down next to us and he's just as calm. His demeanor changed mine and my son's. I'm like 'Lord please don't let us die tonight.' And he's there and these bullets are pinging off the sidewalk next to these officers, and he's still just like a rock."
How did that experience change her perspective?
"I see it from both sides. Being a black mother and a mother of four young black men, I've also spoken to plenty of officers who have reached out to me on their own. And I hear it from their side as well because everybody wants to go home,” said Taylor.
She revealed that she also has trouble now adjusting to large crowds. Despite being shot and requiring extensive medical follow-up, she is not angry about what happened.
"I'm hoping that what did happen to me personally is a bridge," she said.
A bridge to what, WFAA asked.
“That common ground. That open speech that we need,” Taylor continued.
Accomplishing that requires patience and understanding.
"We don't want to take anything away from anyone as far as I'm concerned, but we also want to do it in a format that is elevating our cause what it is we want to accomplish, and that is to just be seen as equals,” said Taylor.
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