This week’s killings of police officers were horrible. No one deserves to die, that much we all know and believe. Although the first thing people wish to do is find someone to blame for this senseless killing, we must not let our pain get the better of us. Black Lives Matter protestors and people who stand against police brutality are not responsible for the attacks on the police in Dallas.

Black Lives Matter protestors and anti-police brutality activists work tirelessly against violence of this naturethat is, violence that takes innocent lives. Their work holding police accountable and expressing their fear, concerns, and anguish over the black lives lost this week are justifiable and protected under the first amendment. This protest mattered. This protest was valid.

Yet, bringing attention to the crimes of police officers may stir tension. One suspect reportedly expressed anger and outrage at white police officers, potentially motivated by the highly publicized killings of black men this week. Protest has power, and speaking out has consequences. However, the consequences of not speaking out and allowing police to have unfettered power over civilians is a greater existential problem for African Americans all over the nation. This is a continual threat for our friends and our families that white citizens do not have to face. Therefore, denial and silence are not the answer.

Acknowledging systemic racism in policing and exposing its violent roots is essential to prevent the deaths of both officers and black people. The process will be painful, but we must own up to the problems in policing that result in anger, protests, and deaths on all sides.

Photo Credits: The Guardian, Laura Buckman/AFP/ Getty Images