You’ve likely heard about the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott, a black man, at the hands of the police, specifically a black police officer. There were demonstrations that started out peacefully but turned violent for a couple of days.
Putting aside, for the moment, the grief over the untimely death of the individual, I was immediately concerned about the well-being of my “baby” sister and her adult daughter who live in Charlotte, North Carolina. Somehow it’s different when you see a massive demonstration at the corner of Trade and Tryon, and you say, “I know exactly where THAT is.”
The family, BTW, is fine. My sister and my late parents moved down there in 1974, and it was a struggle to adjust, but they seemed to have made the transition, not without some race-based difficulty.
Charlotte is the home of several banks, and there is great wealth there, but also systemic injustice. The reaction to the Scott shooting was larger than just his death, but about similar incidents in the recent past in the Queen City.
I thought Robert Reich made a good point:
Assume, for the sake of argument, that the account given by the Charlotte police of how they came to fatally shoot… Scott on [September 20] is true – that he had a handgun. Okay. So what? North Carolina is an open-carry state (like 30 other states) where a citizen has the right to walk around with a handgun.
The Charlotte police department says its officers saw Scott “inside a vehicle in the apartment complex. The subject exited the vehicle armed with a handgun. Officers observed the subject get back into the vehicle at which time they began to approach the subject.”
So exactly what illegal activity did the Charlotte police observe before they approached “the subject?” The only conclusion it’s possible to draw is that it’s illegal to carry a handgun in North Carolina if you’re African-American.
Eugene Robinson made much the same point, which is that In America, gun rights are for whites only. Some gun person asked me, “Wouldn’t you feel safer having a gun?” I said, “Hell, no!” And that was before in incidents in North Carolina and Minnesota.
The Weekly Sift went further, suggesting that there is The Asterisk* in the Bill of Rights when it comes to both the Second Amendment (right to carry arms) and Fourth Amendment (against unreasonable searches and seizures) for blacks.
A United Nations working group says U.S. police killings are reminiscent of lynching. Yow. Read about what eighteen academic studies, legal rulings, and media investigations shed light on the issue roiling America, police, and racial bias.
Strategically and philosophically, I oppose rioting. But when one’s level of outrage hits a certain threshold – remember Keith Lamont Scott, because this happens so frequently, sometimes I can’t keep track – I surely understand it.
(I didn’t even mention the death of Terrance Crutcher of Tulsa, OK at the hands of white police officer Betty Jo Shelby because the shooting appeared unjustifiable even to Donald Trump.)