Police shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota were followed by calls from black militant groups and others to seek vengeance against officers. Almost immediately, several officers were attacked, including the five slain by a sniper in Dallas.
Now authorities are investigating whether the Dallas gunman was directed by those groups or merely emboldened by them.
“I think it’s safe to say we’ll leave no stone unturned,” Dallas Deputy Police Chief Scott Walton said.
Police have been tight-lipped about exactly what they’re investigating and what they’ve uncovered so far. Although Micah Johnson was connected to several militant groups on social media, it’s unclear if he was merely a follower or a more active participant.
Similar questions have been raised by international terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State group: How is the network encouraging and directing attacks? Is it a coordinated effort or are the attacks simply a byproduct of hate speech espoused by the groups on social media?
The number of black separatist groups nearly doubled in 2015, mirroring a similar increase among white hate groups that has taken place as police killings make frequent headlines, said Ryan Lenz, online editor and senior writer at the Southern Poverty Law Center.