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Police departments across the country stepped up security and took other precautionary measures in the aftermath of Thursday night’s shooting at a protest in Dallas that left five officers dead and seven wounded.
The Dallas protest — which was, by all accounts, peaceful until shots rained down upon a crowd of hundreds in the closing moments — was a response to two lethal police shootings of black men -– Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana. At least one suspect in the Dallas shooting has been identified after being killed by police: Micah X. Johnson, an Army reservist who reportedly said he wanted to "kill white people, especially white officers."
Several more protests against the police shootings of black men are planned for Friday and over the weekend, and officials are adamant that they will be peaceful, despite the violence in Dallas.
The most common precautionary measure involves police officers in big cities -- including New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, Cleveland and Philadelphia –- being told to patrol the streets in pairs starting on Friday. While the NYPD said there are no specific threats, the Big Apple will take “a number of precautions to keep our officers safe,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said on the "Brian Lehrer Show." “All our officers have been instructed to go on two-officer patrol, to not be solo today. We will have a very large presence at any protests that are planned to really make sure things are very well controlled.”
Newark, New Jersey Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose told NBC News that 15 to 25 clergy members will be dispersed to ride with police officers through Monday to help maintain calm. “It’s a person that’s there in the community, who knows the community. The clergy can play a mediator out there if something occurs to help quell the situation.”
At least one protest is planned near police headquarters in New Jersey’s largest city on Friday evening and another one on Saturday at Newark Penn Station. Ambrose stressed past protests have been peaceful and “police will not engage unless there is destruction of property, bodily injury or any types of assault.”
A large protest hosted by the People’s Power Assembly of Baltimore is expected to take place at McKeldin Square on Friday evening in response to the deaths of Castile and Sterling. Organizer Sharon Black said hundreds were expected to attend to “express their pain, their grief and their outrage.” Black said that while she was not expecting any violent incidents, there was concern that the events in Dallas “may create the chilling atmosphere where police act out of anger and are more aggressive.”
Baltimore’s Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said in a statement to NBC News, “As we have done throughout the past year, we will work to protect protestors’ 1stamendment rights.” He added, “The safety of our officers and protesters is paramount. It is up to all of us, collectively, to ensure a safe atmosphere.” Baltimore is unfortunately familiar with riots, which plagued the city following the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who died from spinal injuries sustained after being transported in a police van last year.
Additional protests against Castile and Sterling’s deaths are planned for Friday in Detroit, New Orleans, Atlanta, New Haven and Memphis, according to local media.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig said although he doesn't anticipate any problems, "we're certainly in a heightened state of awareness like a lot of departments." He said police officers would be "deployed differently" at protests on Friday but would not go into specific details for security reasons.