Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick of Texas is facing major backlash on social media for calling the peaceful protesters in downtown Dallas “hypocrites” for running away from bullets and expecting police protection after a sniper opened fire on the crowd.
Five police officers were killed and nine other officers and civilians were injured in the deadly attack on Thursday, July 7. One suspect has been identified as Dallas-area resident Micah Xavier Johnson, a 25-year-old member of the Army Reserve.
The shooter placed himself at a building at the end of the route where demonstrators were marching to express their frustration with police brutality in the recent deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota.
“All those protesters last night, they ran the other way expecting the men and women in blue to turn around and protect them,” Patrick told Fox News on Friday, July 8. “What hypocrites!”
He went on to criticize people who bash the police on social media. “I understand the First Amendment, I understand freedom of speech, and I defend it,” the Republican politician said. “It is in our Constitution, it is in our soul, but you can’t go out on social media and mainstream media and everywhere else and say that the police are racist, that the police are hateful, the police are killers.”
Patrick suggested that police could stop protecting citizens if the distrust and ill will toward them doesn’t subside. “I do blame people on social media with their hatred toward police,” he said. “I do blame former Black Lives Matter protests — last night was peaceful, but others have not been.”
His comments came shortly after Dallas Police Chief David Brown said that his department doesn’t usually feel the love from all the people they serve. “We don’t feel much support most days. Let’s not make today most days,” he said. “Please, we need your support to be able to protect you from men like these who carried out this tragic, tragic event.”
Many people on social media were extremely offended by Patrick’s remarks and took them to mean that the protesters should have instead run toward the bullets.
“Is your advice for the American population to run toward gunfire in a shooting, or is that just specifically for black people,” one Twitter user wrote.
“I am deeply disappointed and embarrassed by the comments @DanPatrick made abt the tragedy in #Dallas last night,” another tweeter wrote.