A press conference wrapped about a half hour ago at Parkland Memorial Hospital. Seated in front of a bay of reporters were representatives from the hospital’s trauma department, the hospital district’s police department, its nurses, its surgeons, and the emergency room.
Parkland didn’t provide much of a minute-by-minute narrative of Thursday night, but the discussion quickly dove into American race relations and how the historically poor communication between officers and the citizens they police is only creating a larger divide between us all. Dr. Brian Williams is a black trauma surgeon who was in charge of the Reese-Jones Trauma Center at Parkland Thursday night. With his eyes red but his voice resolute, Williams expressed the internal battle he’s waged since seven police officers arrived in the emergency room Thursday night.
The months of reports of black men being shot dead in the street across this country have left him angry and scared, he said. He said he still has angst that he can’t shake when police officers approach him. When he’s with his daughter in public and sees an officer, he’ll buy their lunch or pick up their ice cream.
“I want my daughter to see me interacting with police that way so she doesn’t grow up with the same burden that I carry when it comes to interacting with law enforcement,” Williams said. “And I want the Dallas police to see me, a black man, and understand that I support you, I will defend you, and I will care for you. That doesn’t mean that I do not fear you. That doesn’t mean that if you approach me, that I will not immediately have a visceral reaction and start worrying for my personal safety. But I will control that the best I can and not let that impact the way I deal with law enforcement.”
Before he said all this, Williams gave a prepared statement. Here it is in full:
“I want to state first and foremost, I stand with the Dallas Police Department. I stand with law enforcement all over this country. This experience has been very personal for me, and a turning point in my life. There was the added dynamic of officers being shot; we routinely care for multiple gunshot victims. But the preceding days of more black men dying at the hands of police officers affected me. I think the reasons are obvious. I fit that demographic of individuals. But I abhor what has been done to these officers, and I grieve with their families.
“I understand the anger and the frustration and the distrust of law enforcement. But they are not the problem. The problem is the lack of open discussions about the impact of race relations in this country. And I think about it every day, that I was unable to save those cops when they came here that night. It weighs on my mind constantly. This killing, it has to stop. Black men dying and being forgotten, people retaliating against the people sworn to defend us — we have to come together and end all this.”