I found myself having an unexpectedly negative reaction to the many passionate calls for justice in response to Tuesday’s police shooting in Charlotte.
As of the latest news reports, all any member of the public knows is that a citizen was shot by a police officer. There are conflicting reports as to whether or not the citizen had a gun. The citizen was African-American, as is the police officer. In this informational vacuum, I found myself asking, “For whom are we seeking justice?”
The facile response is “We imply no judgment of either party. The incident just prompts us to come together and consider the broader issue.” No doubt there is a broader issue, as the past several years have made clear. But it would be naïve to suggest that such calls are equally concerned with justice for citizens of color dealing with a biased, sometimes dangerous system and the police who must make life-and-death decisions.
The reality is most of us will never know what it’s like to be in either set of shoes. Most of us reach for our license and registration when pulled over by the police; we don’t worry that any movement could be misinterpreted with deadly consequences. Most of us have never lifted a gun toward another human being, nor had mere seconds to assess whether lives were at risk.
And few of us know what happened in Charlotte Tuesday afternoon.
A man is dead. Another is living with the consequences of having been the cause. Neither should be used as a placeholder for facts, a thorough investigation and reasoned judgment. We must live the values we espouse.
Linda LeFauve is a Davidson College executive who lives in Huntersville. firstname.lastname@example.org