Editorial: ‘Just 30-45 minutes away’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 22, 2016

Incendiary. That’s the only way to describe the mayhem that gripped Charlotte on Tuesday and Wednesday after a police officer shot and killed a black man, Keith Scott.

The violence accomplished nothing. People who want justice for Keith Scott have every right to demonstrate and protest, to make their feelings known. But it’s counterproductive to attack police, break store windows and block the interstate, risking lives in the process. These senseless actions feed into the very narrative people are working to change.

Police showed tremendous restraint.

Anyone watching the scene on TV likely went through a range of emotions that culminated in one grim realization. As the Rev. Anthony Smith of Salisbury said on this Facebook page, “This is just 30-45 minutes away.”

Not in Minnesota, New York or Dallas. Just 30-45 minutes away.

Though family members say Keith Scott was not armed, Charlotte Police say he was, and that he posed an imminent threat to officers. Instead of deciding which side to believe, the public needs to wait for evidence. Charlotte Police could answer a lot of questions by releasing whatever video footage they have of the shooting.

Meanwhile, keep this in mind: In addition to a string of police shootings of unarmed black men, the country has also experienced a string of attacks on police. Both undermine our American way of life.

Salisbury could use some constructive dialogue right now between officialdom and the black community, to talk about the need for mutual respect as well as law and order. The Facebook post put up by Smith, an African-American pastor, said something more. “This is why we need to have real uncomfortable conversations and actions done here locally.”

Some people discount the value of prayer at a time like this; they want action. Besides, not everyone is a believer. But the words of prayer posted by Bishop Tim Smith of the N.C. Luthan Synod offer a constructive message:

“Praying for the truth of what has happened to be found and for patience and restraint to be shown by both law enforcement and protesters. Praying for all who risk their lives for all of us each day to serve in law enforcement, praying for an end to over-reacting profiling and brutality by police, whether or not it happened last night (and we don’t yet know since the “facts” are conflicting.)

“Praying for restraint from senseless violence by protesters. Praying for an end to systemic racial targeting and practices that keep whole communities on edge, especially young black men, who sense that their voices are not heard and their lives not valued.

“Praying for Keith Scott’s family and for Police Officer Vinson and his family. Praying for our Charlotte churches to be vessels of healing. Praying for peace for all God’s precious children that comes only with true justice. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.”