Claudia Lauer

DALLAS: The day after five Dallas officers were killed by a sniper, the city’s police chief described the men as “guardians” of democracy, praising them for protecting the freedom to protest at a large demonstration against police brutality.

President Barack Obama later eulogized the slain officers, saying they died while defending essential constitutional rights.

But nearly two months after the shootings, Dallas police have moved to silence critics and squelch lingering questions about the attack. Officers in riot gear have been told to ticket protesters who block or disrupt traffic, and Police Chief David Brown has refused to meet with demonstrators unless they agree to end their marches through downtown, which he says pose a threat to officers.

Authorities have also refused to release even the most basic information about the slayings, including any details about the weapons used, the autopsy findings and ballistics tests that could establish whether any officers were hit by friendly fire. Police have indicated that such information could be withheld almost indefinitely.

In addition, the police department’s most vocal, visible critic — a 27-year-old self-styled preacher with a criminal history — has been arrested multiple times in the last month on warrants that include unpaid traffic tickets and attempts to revoke his probation from a 2009 felony. On Friday, Dominique Alexander was ordered to prison.

“Why all of a sudden are we the target?” asked Damon Crenshaw, vice president of the Next Generation Action Network, which organized the July 7 protest. “We’re not protesting because we’re mad at them. We’re protesting because the problems still exist and they won’t talk to us.”

Crenshaw said Alexander was targeted because of his protest activities and that the shooter, Micah Johnson, was not affiliated with their group.

Alexander, the founder of the protest network, believes he was targeted because he refused to stop the demonstrations.

“They try to hush and silence people,” he said. “It would be a failure to the lives lost if we don’t continue. The issues still exist, and they can act like they want to heal, but then they ignore the issues.”

The police chief has support from City Hall. Mayor Mike Rawlings said in a statement that he trusts Brown’s “judgment in how he communicates with protest organizers.”

Alexander, whose record includes convictions for forging a check, evading police and theft, was on probation for a 2009 conviction for causing injury to a child. He said the 2-year-old he was watching had fallen off the couch, but hospital staff said the child’s injuries were more consistent with abuse.

Alexander denied injuring the child and said he pleaded guilty because he could not afford a good attorney.

His uncle was killed by police in 2010 after firing on officers. But it was the 2014 death of a woman he knew in high school that prompted his involvement in police protests, Alexander said. The woman was missing for a week before being found dead in an abandoned building. Her family complained that police ignored their initial pleas for help.

Alexander spent the past two weeks under house arrest, wearing an ankle monitor and ­awaiting a judge’s determination of whether his probation would be revoked.

“No new crime has been committed to warrant this kind of action,” said Kim Cole, one of Alexander’s attorneys. “And the timing does appear suspicious.”

At Friday’s hearing, the judge considered all of Alexander’s probation violations and sent him to prison for two years. With credit for time served, that comes to about six months, his attorneys said.

Prosecutor Douglas Millican denied that politics were behind the efforts to revoke Alexander’s probation. But Cole said Alexander got extra scrutiny because of his protest activities, noting that police and sheriff’s officers had provided the judge with social media posts and other photos and video of Alexander to show he had left the state.

In addition to the protest crackdowns, city and police officials have also succeeded in suppressing questions about the shooting, including details about the law enforcement response and the motive of the gunman.