Sunday morning in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a lone gunman named Gavin Long killed three police officers and wounded three more in a vicious, pointless and soulless attack.
Sunday afternoon in Cleveland, thousands of people gathered at the Hope Memorial Bridge in an event called Circle the City With Love. Organizers said the event was intended to embody the power of love that can bring peace and justice.
Participants, including some police officers, held hands silently for 30 minutes under a hot afternoon sun and radiated peaceful energy. Some wore shirts saying “Stand for Love.” The event was planned to set a standard for the Republican National Convention, which begins Monday. If the rhetoric of presumptive nominee Donald Trump is an indicator, the convention could be hugely divisive in tone.
After Sunday’s shootings, President Barack Obama asked the nation to soften the heated rhetoric dominating this political season and infiltrating so many discussions on race, class, policing and civil rights.
Our highly charged debates are no reason to kill, but neither are angry hearts and furious words conducive to peace. That is the truth of the world right now: thousands and millions and billions of good people driven into a fearful mindset by a few murderous deviants.
In Cleveland, police have set up barricades and brought in backup officers. We know precautions must be taken — and that they might not be enough. Anyone willing to die to kill others can do plenty of damage, precautions or not.
We’ll learn more about Gavin Long. We’ll try to make sense of the senseless. And we will keep worrying about this debilitating spate of public violence. But in the end, the thousands and millions and billions of people committed to goodness will win out over the killers.
How could they not? They stand for love.