Does a city burn every time?
We all woke up to another riot, more looting, and more police officers hurt. It happened in North Carolina, as we see in this report:
Charlotte police warned 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott again and again to drop his handgun before an officer shot and killed him, the police chief announced Wednesday morning, after riots damaged patrol cars and injured at least 16 officers.
Police Chief Kerr Putney said during a news conference that officers were searching for a suspect Tuesday when they saw Scott exit a vehicle with a handgun at an apartment complex on the city's northeast side. "The officers gave loud, clear verbal commands which were also heard by many of the witnesses. They were instructing the subject, once he got out of the vehicle, to drop the weapon... Mr. Scott exited his vehicle armed with a handgun as the officers continued to yell at him to drop it."
Putney said Officer Brentley Vinson shot Scott because the man posed a threat. Vinson is black, as was Scott.
A woman claiming to be Scott's daughter said in a video posted on Facebook that her father was unarmed and had a book, not a gun. Police say they found no book at the scene.
The police chief said officers requested medical help and performed CPR on Scott. Vinson has been placed on administrative leave while the shooting is investigated, police said. He's been with the department for two years.
As always, I withhold judgement on these incidents until we have a full report. Ferguson certainly turned out to be very different once a report was issued. In other words, "hands up don't shoot" never actually happened.
So we will wait for the facts to emerge before we say this or that about the police officer's behavior.
We can say a couple of things that go on beyond this incident:
1) Are we now at a point in our history where people loot stores or hurt officers just because someone tells them a black man was shot by a police officer? In this case, the police officer is black, but that does not matter, apparently. Do facts matter anymore?
2) Who organizes these riots? They certainly happen rather quickly. Don't these people looting have lives or jobs to attend to? It sure seems to me that there are lots of people just waiting for the text to go out and do some damage.
3) How are we going to get people to serve in our police forces after these incidents? How can we expect men and women, of diverse races, to go out and put themselves under this kind of second-guessing and ruthless scrutiny? Who cares about blue lives and the families they go to every day?
It is a horrible situation, and the country yearns for a leader who will stand up for the rule of law, not go on black radio talks shows to energize an unenergized base.