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Attack on courthouse marks mayor's first day

Attack on courthouse marks mayor's first day

June 20th, 2019 by Dallas Morning News in Opinion Columns

A couple of hours before a new mayor, Eric Johnson, and a new city council were sworn in to serve Dallas, a gunman dressed in tactical gear with a black mask pulled over his face opened fire on the federal courthouse downtown.

Federal law enforcement agents and local police raced to take the shooter down, risking their own lives and recalling this city's nightmare of three years ago, when five officers lost their lives to a gunman who ambushed them in the heart of our city.

The juxtaposition of the shooting Monday morning and the swearing in less than two hours later was jarring and demanding of reflection.

It was jarring in the sense that, this is the world we live in now.

A man attacked an institution of law and justice that exists for the very purpose of protecting our lives and liberty, with judging guilt and innocence.

And just a short drive away, another democratic institution was going about the business of the peaceful transfer of power that is the foundation of civil society.

We wish that the new mayor had veered from his prepared remarks to mark, even briefly, the fear, terror and bravery on display at the Earle Cabell Federal Courthouse.

We wish he would have thanked law enforcement for, once again, throwing themselves into danger to protect the rest of us.

Unfortunately, the moment went unremarked, and Johnson carried on with what was otherwise a fine prepared speech about the need for greater civility in local government and the need to get things done to move the city forward.

The things he said about building our workforce and enhancing the use of data to improve city functions were all valuable.

And things of that nature will almost surely occupy most of his time in office.

But leadership is usually defined in moments of crisis more than it is remembered in day-to-day decisions.

Thanks to the swift actions of law enforcement, Monday morning was not another national tragedy visited upon our city.

The shooter was quickly neutralized. He died after being shot.

Johnson will not open his service as mayor attending the funerals of victims killed by a twisted gunman.

We hope that day never comes for him, the way it came for outgoing Mayor Mike Rawlings and the way it has come for other mayors across America.

Leaders are made in such moments.

Or those moments wash away those who cannot lead.

Monday wasn't a defining moment for the new mayor because a brave few did their duty.

Let's begin by thanking them from the bottom of this city's heart and recognizing that if not for them, we'd be left unprotected from terrible tragedy.

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