The 11 police officers shot by snipers at the end of a Black Lives Matters march in Dallas had been standing guard as protesters made their way through the city, on an evening that local reports described as “peaceful” until the attack began.
The protesters were demonstrating on July 7 against the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota; both were killed by police earlier this week. Simultaneous protests were held in New York, Washington DC, Miami, and Baton Rouge.
Photos and videos on social media appeared to show the Dallas event as a calm march of solidarity. At 5:12pm local time, the Dallas police department department tweeted a striking photo of two officers, one black and one white, standing shoulder to shoulder with a man holding a sign: “No justice, no peace.”
A video tweeted by the department at 5:30pm local time shows protestors marching peacefully down the street, chanting, “Raise your hands, don’t shoot.”
Two unidentified shooters opened fire around 8:45pm local time.
Earlier in the day, US president Barack Obama had delivered a short speech on the deaths of Sterling and Castile, and urging unity.
“All Americans should recognize the anger, frustration, and grief that so many Americans are feeling—feelings that are being expressed in peaceful protests and vigils,” he said.
“Rather than fall into a predictable pattern of division and political posturing, let’s reflect on what we can do better. Let’s come together as a nation, and keep faith with one another, in order to ensure a future where all of our children know that their lives matter.”