A news story’s lead is supposed to get your attention, and this one in the Observer online Monday morning got mine:
“A three-homicide weekend has Charlotte on pace for 100 murders this year.”
The story also said 67 people were murdered last year, about a 15 percent jump over 2015. Anywhere but Chicago, that’s a lot of lost lives and a shocking trend. I was curious what Charlotte’s mayor had to say.
I found no comment from Jennifer Roberts in stories on the killings or the murder rate. Maybe no one asked. So I went to Twitter, the personal pulpit of all politicians and pundits.
Like our president, Jennifer Roberts is two people on Twitter. Both “@JenRobertsNC” and her alter-ego “@CLTMayor” had much to say. Nothing, however, about murder in her city.
Scrolling back through her weekend tweets got me wondering what Roberts had said about the 10- year anniversary Friday of the murders of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officers Sean Clark and Jeff Shelton.
The overnight ambush of Clark and Shelton was a seismic shock to Charlotte that turned into a massive expression of love in their funerals the next week. Anyone who lived through those days remembers them clearly. Roberts lived here. She was chairman of the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners.
If her own recollection didn’t bring the anniversary to mind, the coverage should have. Several TV stations aired reports. WBTV produced a half-hour special and anchor Molly Grantham had a column in the Observer wondering what Charlotte’s response to such a horrific incident would be today. Good question in light of all that’s happened the past few years. A mayor might have taken the opportunity to answer.
There was no response from the mayor in the Observer, nor on Twitter, where Roberts follows Grantham and other media who were posting about the anniversary.
There had also been a memorial for the officers at CMPD’s North Tryon Division Friday. I wondered if the mayor attended or tweeted, even retweeted, any comment about it.
Roberts was not in attendance. At the time she was in her office welcoming the First Lady of the Republic of Cabo Verde. She tweeted nothing about it even though she follows CMPD, which posted several photos from the ceremony.
For years, I’ve asked candidates for mayor why they want a job that holds so little real power. They all, including Roberts, answered with a variation on this theme: Charlotte’s mayor may not have much statutory power but does have the power of their personal pulpit – the power of what they say and give their attention to.
From Monday past to Monday last, Mayor Jennifer Roberts tweeted shout-outs to supporters and reports on campaign contributions. She tweeted herself in full uniform with the Harlem Globetrotters. She tweeted about the “false repeal” of HB2 and re-tweeted that goofy video of Carolina coach Roy Williams dancing. She tweeted herself with Power 98’s No Limit Larry promoting her song contest. Roberts tweeted or retweeted well over a hundred times but not once about the city’s murder rate or her response. Not once about the 10-year anniversary of the murders of two of her city’s finest.
Charlotte is hearing what you say, Mayor, and seeing who you give your attention to.
Violent crime, and the people who put their lives on the line trying to fight it, don’t matter as much as your politics and selfies.
Observer contributor Keith Larson can be heard weekdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on TheLarsonPage.com and followed on Twitter @ClubLAMA.