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Ambush of law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge Editor’s Note: In this article, scientist, former journalist, lifetime resident of Baton Rouge and GSN columnist George Lane describes cycles of violence in his hometown from the 1970s to the present This past weekend’s ambush and targeted killings of three law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge is part of a recent cycle of violence that began with a number of shootings of black citizens by law enforcement, one here in Baton Rouge where I live. Sunday’s shooting in Baton Rouge is the latest episode in a month of violence and extraordinary racial tension and took place after Baton Rouge officers fatally shot Alton Sterling, a black man who was selling CDs outside a convenience store on July 5. The night after Sterling was killed, another black man was killed by the police during a traffic stop in a St. Paul suburb in Minnesota. The next night five police officers were killed by a gunman in Dallas who said he wanted to kill police officers, particularly white officers. This weekend brought back painful memories of similar cycle of violence in the early 1970’s that culminated in a shootout in downtown Baton Rouge in which I was an unwilling participant while working as a journalist for a Baton Rouge television station. As media I was a target in the 1972 shootout by self-professed Black Muslims from outside of Baton Rouge. I avoided injury; however, two East Baton Rouge Sheriff ’s Office deputies were killed and my friend and anchor of the television station was viciously beaten and remained in a coma for several years, dying in 2010.1 Another shootout occurred on November 16, 1972 at a local university in Baton Rouge between students and law enforcement in which two black students were killed.2 Then in 1973, in retribution for the Baton Rouge shootings, an ex-military sniper, Mark Essex, terrorized downtown New Orleans for a week, killing seven people, including three police officers, and wounding eight.3 Before the recent ambush, Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD) had said they were investigating a plot by four people to shoot at police officers, and they cited the threat to explain the heavy police presence 14 at protests. Police said a 17-year-old was arrested after running George Lane from a burglary of weapons from a pawn shop in Baton Rouge. He and three others were believed to have broken into the pawnshop. The Baton Rouge police chief told reporters that the 17-year-old told police “that the reason the burglary was being done was to harm police officers.” The chief of BRPD said during a press conference today that he believes Long would have continued to BRPD Headquarters just a handful of miles away from the site of the ambush attack had he not been taken out by a SWAT officer with a shot from 100 yards away. “This guy was going to another location,” said the BRPD chief. “He wasn’t going to stop here.” Gavin Eugene Long has been identified as the gunman who opened fire in Baton Rouge. Long, described as a 29-year-old black male from Kansas City, Missouri, was killed at the scene of the shooting. Long’s birth- More on page 16
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