Black, white and blue

The battle between police and the public
The battle between police and the public 07:22

We look back this morning on A WEEK IN BLACK AND WHITE ... a week like no other in recent times. With the wounds still fresh in our minds, we wonder how it all could have happened -- and wonder what we can all do together to keep it from happening again. Our Cover Story is reported now by Martha Teichner:

No matter how horrible the Dallas killings were, were they somehow inevitable?

Micah Xavier Johnson may have turned out to be the same kind of troubled mass shooter we've seen so many times before. But what he did with deadly aim was shove the issue of policing and race into all of our faces, again.

"What I think this shows is that in a system that doesn't value black life, it only further imperils blue life," said Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery, the author of "They Can't Kill Us All" (Little, Brown), a soon-to-be-released history of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Lowery was not surprised by the events in Dallas: "You had a nation that, for two years, has almost nonstop been grappling with this idea of policing and what acceptable policing and acceptable police use of force looks like. And we'd had these two incidents, first in Baton Rouge and then in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, one after the other, that were so traumatizing. And you saw the anger and you saw this pain."

By now, the pictures are almost painfully familiar -- what police use of force looked like last Tuesday in Baton Rouge, when cell phone video of Alton Sterling being shot to death went viral. The officers had been told he had a gun.

Then, on Wednesday, again -- incredibly -- in a suburb of St. Paul, Diamond Reynolds began live-streaming on Facebook just after an officer shot her boyfriend, Philando Castile, and he lay dying.

Castile had said he had a gun.

Reynolds: "We got pulled over for a busted tail light in the back. And the police just, he's covered. He's still my boyfriend. He's licensed to carry. He was trying to get out his ID and his wallet out of his pocket, and he let the officer know that he was, that he had a firearm and he was reaching for his wallet. And the officer just shot him in his arm."
Officer: "Keep your hands on the wheel!"
Reynolds: "I will, sir, no worries. I will. He just shot his arm off. We got pulled over on Larpenteur ..."
Officer: "I told him not to reach for it. I told him to get his hands out -- "
Reynolds: "You thought ... he would get his ID sir, his driver's license. Oh my God, please don't tell me he's dead. Please don't tell me my boyfriend just went like that."
Officer: "Keep your hands where they are, please."
Reynolds: "Yes, I will, sir, I'll keep my hands where they are. Please don't tell me this Lord, please don't tell me that he's gone. Please don't tell me that he's gone. Please, officer, don't tell me that you just did this to him. You shot four bullets into him, sir. He was just getting his license and registration, sir!"

Police argue that the videos we see often show only part of the story. But these two, back to back, were still damning.

"For generations Black Americans have been talking about these interactions," said Lowery. "They've been saying, 'The police have beat us up. They've killed us. They've harassed us.' And for generations, White America has said, 'You're making it up; we believe the police.' And what has changed has been videotape."

And then, the story changed.

On Thursday there were demonstrations throughout the United States, including the one in Dallas. As protests go, it was a model of peaceful police/community good will ... until the moment when Micah Xavier Johnson opened fire.

Five officers were killed and seven more wounded protecting the demonstrators as they ran away.

This was viral video of a very different kind: we saw good cops, not what looked like bad cops. The theater of public anguish shifted to another stage.

On Friday morning Dallas Police Chief David Brown said, "We're hurting. We are heartbroken. ... We don't feel much support most days. Let's not make today most days."

The irony is that Dallas cops were targeted; community policing is the rule in Dallas. Officer-involved shootings are down; crime is, too. Just a month ago, University of South Florida criminology professor Lorie Fridell was brought in to teach impartial policing, as we watched her do in Philadelphia last summer.