How to talk about Kerrick trial

Wes Kerrick, left, with attorney Michael Greene prior to the start of jury selection.
Wes Kerrick, left, with attorney Michael Greene prior to the start of jury selection.

Testimony in the voluntary manslaughter trial of white Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Officer Randall “Wes” Kerrick in the 2013 shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell, an unarmed black man, could start this week.

Anticipating interest in the case, Charlotte’s Community Building Initiative and the Community Relations Committee teamed up to produce a group discussion guide: “Can We Talk? About the Ferrell/Kerrick Story.”

The five-page guide is designed for groups already together – in the workplace, in houses of worship, in book clubs and others – that want to go deeper and get more personal on issues such as race. The guide will be available for download Monday on the CBI and CRC websites. (CBI also has, on its website, a guide for talking about the Charleston shootings.)

Here is some of what the two groups are advising groups that want to talk:

▪ Chose or recruit someone to help guide the conversation.

▪ Speak from your own personal perspective.

▪ Listen to each other. That’s the path to a new shared understanding.

▪ Don’t debate. The idea isn’t to come up with one group conclusion, it’s to better understand the multiple realities and views in the room.

Consider these questions for reflection and conversation

1. How are you feeling about the Ferrell/Kerrick story? How does your own identity (race, gender, etc.) and your personal story inform these feelings?

2. Who do you most identify with in this story? Why? Who do you least identify with? Why? What does this have to do with your identity and personal story?

3. From your perspective are race and/or racism in this story?

4. What has been stirred up for you as a result of today’s conversation? This story?

5. As a result of today’s conversation, what is a possible next step for you?

6. How does what happened in Ferguson, Mo., Baltimore and North Charleston impact your feelings/reaction to the Ferrell/Kerrick story and the trial that is taking place in our city?

Tim Funk

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