Opinion

Police-racial tensions, terror threats find America on tilt and at a crossroads

A timeline of the Charlotte police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott

Protesters have taken to the streets of Charlotte following the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott on Tuesday. Officials allege a black officer opened fire on Scott after he emerged from his car with a gun in the University City area. Family mem
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Protesters have taken to the streets of Charlotte following the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott on Tuesday. Officials allege a black officer opened fire on Scott after he emerged from his car with a gun in the University City area. Family mem

For several days running I have started columns about some serious issues — columns I was unable to finish. By the time I circled back to a point of offering solutions, I realized I had none.

Though I am perceptive when it comes to framing the problems we face, I find it harder and harder to find the bread crumbs leading back to some semblance of happily-ever-after.

When I learned earlier this month that a man in Phoenix had tried to run over three police officers there, I was livid. In the last 70 days we have five police dead in Dallas, three dead in Baton Rouge and there have been several attempted murders of police elsewhere.

Phoenix Police Chief Joseph Yahner told the Associated Press the attack on the officers was intentional. “I'm outraged by this incident. This stuff needs to stop.”

I have no answers about how to get inside the heads of people who want to ambush and kill those commissioned to keep the peace. Everybody in law enforcement knows there is a percentage of bad officers who make serious errors while carrying out their life-and-death missions. But when bad, cowardly people respond by targeting everybody in blue — that turns a wrong into an evil assault on law and order.

Since when do we suffer citizens hunting down our police?

I was distracted from completing that column by the weekend terrors in New York and Minnesota. I was getting someplace on a piece about that, calibrating a way to focus my concern toward terrorists — who, mostly, are cowardly bullies who parrot ideologies hatched by people without the capacity to live and let live. I was developing that idea until I heard some pundits trivialize these events, saying: since nobody died and the perpetrator was caught, we were making way too big of a deal out of the nine stabbing victims in St. Cloud and the 40-some injured in Manhattan.

Since when are fatalities the measure of a terror incident?

I was treading water in opine mode on these ideas when confronted with the tragic news of the fatal shootings of black men in Tulsa and Charlotte at the hands of police officers — situations that immediately ripped open the sutures of our souls from the last episodes of this sickening and ongoing pattern.

Yes, authorities and community stakeholders are busy sorting out the evidence around the carnage and the violence in Charlotte. The family of shooting victim Keith Lamont Scott has seen some police videos of the incident — but they have yet to see the reasons for his killing. The officer who pulled the trigger in Tulsa that killed Terence Crutcher has been charged with first degree manslaughter.

Since when is deadly force the acceptable default for dealing with suspects, too many of whom are black?

We are a nation on tilt, dealing with multiple traumas of the spirit. We all have questions. Who among us has the answers?

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