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Dallas Stunned, Numb After Attack Targeting Police


We're going to turn now to NPR's John Burnett because he is out on the streets of Dallas getting the mood this morning on a grim Friday morning. John, what are you seeing? Where are you?

JOHN BURNETT, BYLINE: Hey, Rachel. I'm actually sitting outside of a steakhouse on the edge of the police cordon area - a 20, 25 block area. South downtown Dallas, which has just turned into this giant crime scene - it's cop land. There's state troopers. There's Dallas police. There's fire and rescue. There's ATF agents.

You can actually see one of the police cars that was hit by the sniper. You can see the plate glass window in El Centro College that was blasted out by the sniper. They're not letting anyone in. You know, all the office workers are just kind of standing bewildered - going to be a big day off for them. And everyone is just stunned beyond belief.

MARTIN: We did hear the police chief, David Brown, say that he wouldn't rest until all possible leads had been explored. So this is an ongoing investigation - and clearly, a palpable sense of tension on the streets. John, are you talking with people about how they believe this is going to change - if it will change - the relationship between the Dallas Police and that community there?

BURNETT: Well, I mean, at this point, the sense I'm getting is one of just kind of numbness - that this happened in their beloved Dallas. Maybe that feeling will come next. I did talk to several officers who obviously didn't want to give their names.

And, you know, some were just, again, sort of numb. And then some wanted to - one in particular, kind of a grizzled motorcycle cop who just, you know, wanted to blame the media and, he said, the people who lead this country for creating an environment that makes it open season on cops.

And so there's kind of a stony exterior to some of the cops that are out here. And there's going to be - there's a big prayer vigil at noon here in Thanks-Giving Square, when - maybe that will be the first coming together. And people will start to deal with this emotionally.

MARTIN: You know, our colleague Martin Kaste has talked about the fact that Dallas has actually been this model police department that's really been aggressive about making reforms.


MARTIN: What can you tell us, if anything, about that - and whether or not citizens there feel that that is true - that that's reflected in their interactions with the police there?

BURNETT: Well, you did get the sense. And some of the citizens I talked to this morning - they noted that police were there at the Black Lives Matter march last night to protect them. And things have improved notably. This is a progressive department.

This is my hometown. I was born and raised here. I was here when Kennedy was shot - of course, a little boy. Things have improved epically since those days. And it's really become - some consider a model police department. And so I think that's why - you know, why punish this department of all the nation's police departments?

MARTIN: NPR's John Burnett giving us a sense of the mood on the streets of Dallas this Friday morning after this horrific tragedy last night. John, thank you so much for your time.

BURNETT: Sure, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rachel Martin is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
As NPR's Southwest correspondent based in Austin, Texas, John Burnett covers immigration, border affairs, Texas news and other national assignments. In 2018, 2019 and again in 2020, he won national Edward R. Murrow Awards from the Radio-Television News Directors Association for continuing coverage of the immigration beat. In 2020, Burnett along with other NPR journalists, were finalists for a duPont-Columbia Award for their coverage of the Trump Administration's Remain in Mexico program. In December 2018, Burnett was invited to participate in a workshop on Refugees, Immigration and Border Security in Western Europe, sponsored by the RIAS Berlin Commission.