That’s what a suspect told police negotiators after five officers were killed at a rally last night in downtown Dallas by as many as four snipers perched at “elevated positions.” The suspect, who eventually died in a standoff with police earlier on Friday, might as well have been describing the feeling of surreal dread that Americans woke to this morning, following a traumatic week in which two black civilians—Alton Sterling and Philando Castile—were killed by police during what apparently should have been routine encounters. The rally in Dallas had been organized to protest their deaths and all the other deaths of black lives at the hands of police, and it had been peaceful before it was interrupted by an act of violence reminiscent of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, featuring shooters who seemed to know their way around an assault rifle. There are those who are already unfairly conflating this attack with the Black Lives Matter movement, and in that respect this can only be seen as a setback for the cause to reform police practices.
That is not even to speak of the insane amount of spectacular gun violence that afflicts this country. Even though the Dallas shooting contains a unique blend of elements—the snipers, the crosshairs targeting of police, the racial dimension, the graphic footage of the event itself—there is a numbing sameness to it all, the familiar sensation of being confronted by more senseless carnage. It has not even been a month since the massacre in Orlando. Not even a month, between two of the worst mass shootings in recent memory. And the feeling that has settled in is that of deep hopelessness—the sense that it is inevitable that there will be another shooting, another massacre, soon enough.