A message for our black neighbors – by Charlotte clergy and community leaders

The following brief editorial appeared in The Charlotte Observer on June 2, 2020, signed by about 80 clergy and community leaders.

In the wake of yet one more unjust killing of an unarmed African American, we clergy and community leaders who are white say to our Black neighbors:

We feel outrage, grief, disgust and remorse.
We stand with you in horror, lament and weariness.
We’re fed up. It’s time.
We confess our complicity, inertia and timidity.
We own our responsibility right now.
With God’s help, we will change ourselves.
With you, we’ll change our institutions and our community.”

Having worked in the human services agencies as a volunteer Board Member, I support these words and have benefitted from working with a few of these voices to help people in need. We all must be the part of the solution. We cannot stand silent when injustice is being done to people who feel their voice is not being heard.

We must ask our police officers and leadership to police their own, identifying and improving on non-exemplary behavior or actions, painfully investigating all deaths to ferret out and punish unjust actions (the Pilot’s Union has a good model with their involvement in investigating plane crashes). Police officers have a tough and dangerous job, and even the best of intentions can go awry in a moment’s decision. But, every group has some bad apples, as well. The repeated and unchecked actions of those bad apples paint all officers with a broad brush.

So, police officers must be empowered and supported to call out their own, especially in the heat of moment of questionable actions. It is hard to call your own on the carpet, but that is what is needed and necessary. There is too long a list of names where such behavior led to a death (Floyd, Arbery Taylor, Cooper, Bland, Garner, Scott, Martin, Garner, Brown, Gray…). Eric Garner was also choked to death and the officer was not charged by a grand jury. But, if the others present had told the officer to “cool his jets” or “the man said he can’t breathe,” Garner or Floyd would still be alive.

I am encouraged by police officers participating in and being supportive of the civil protests. I have seen more than a few officers call out the bad actions that killed Floyd. I am encouraged by the diversity of the civil protestors. I am encouraged by people around the globe also protesting racial injustice.

Yet, I am also discouraged by protestors who have conducted violence and looting. That is harmful to their message and punishes the wrong people. We must speak out against such violence, while shining a spot light on the greater majority of peaceful protests. But, we must seek and get change.

14 thoughts on “A message for our black neighbors – by Charlotte clergy and community leaders

  1. Just as it is important for Republicans to call out and censure the bad behavior of “fellow” Republicans, so it is important for law enforcement to censure bad behavior of their colleagues, and just as important is for protesters to call out rioters and looters who are NOT protesting but simply stealing and vandalizing under the false banner of protest.

  2. It is the pure horror that happened again to a fellow man. It is disgusting and simply shocking how one fellow man kills another one. It is even more shocking when this happens with a racist background. It is intolerable and those policemen have to be charged with murder.
    It is touching how police officers join the protesters (in a peaceful and loyal way). It is a big light in this horror. But I don’t understand why it is necessary to practice even more violence and to harm innocent people and ruin shop owners. How can anybody think that that will make life more peaceful?

    • Erika, agreed on all points. Former President Obama and Hall of Fame basketball great Kareem Abdul Jabbar each have written editorials worth reading. A burned down grocery store hurts the customers who shop there. Plus, if in a poverty area, that may be the only store. Keith

  3. Your call for change is well said, my friend. It is beyond unfortunate that the person in the Oval Office is calling for the exact opposite, is telling police to be more brutal and threatening us all with military action. This is not the way forward, but will set us even further backward on the path.

    • Jill, thanks. Your piece on what Obama wrote is what a president should say. It was never a question, but is absolutely clear, that Trump will double down on what he thinks will help him win the election. He did it with a peaceful protest by Colin Kaepermick abetted by his sycophants at Fox. And, if MLK was alive, he would be denigrating him when he found it MLK was not going to parrot Trump’s rants. Keith

      • Exactly … Obama’s words are those of a true leader, whereas Trump has been making a royal ass of himself for days now. An aside … I was proud of your Governor Cooper for sticking by his guns. I gather Trump is now insisting on another venue for the RNC. Ah well, you’re better off without all those idiots in town!

      • Jill, Governor Cooper, again is more concerned about GOP convention goers than Donald Trump. Especially, after Trump cleared the path civil protestors (including clergy) with tear gas, so that he could have a photo shoot in front of a church with a bible. WWJD, you may ask? My guess is not tear gas people.

        Again, these governors who want the convention, will need to find a city to hold it. They may say no to a convention without restrictions. Keith

  4. I agree with everything said Keith. It;s time the police rid themselves of bad eggs and it became a crime to denigrate a people by the colour of their race. They are people and they have good and bad as we do. Lets sort that problem out and see how we go from there.I have every sympathy for the victim but the rioting must end.That’s just making things worse.

    • Thanks David. Burning down the only grocery store in a community punishes the 55 year old black woman who wants to feed her kids. That is shameful.

      What I also don’t like about the violence is it allows the president to channel his inner thug like behavior. And, that is also dangerous as he winds up his extremists to do what they do. We must always remember the president prefers a mud fight. The ones with debate over issues, he is not very good at. Keith

  5. My heart is heavy here in Philadelphia. Watching people destroy their own resources for basic needs in the middle of a pandemic where everyone is already hanging by a thread is a lot to bear.
    Your message is wonderful ❤

    • Thanks Lisa. It is sad to see such. On the flip side, the lion’s share of protestors are civil. There was yet one more march in Charlotte of several thousand strong of people of all races, generations, and ethnicities that was civil. There was a great picture on the front page, which gave us pride. Then at night, out came the uncivil folks who cause unrest. Keith

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