The author is an at-large representative on the Charlotte City Council.
On March 25 at about 9 a.m., we lost 27-year-old Danquirs Napoleon Franklin. Municipal government should not be in the business of killing people, but that has happened once again. Whether it was justified, right or wrong, we are not better off at this moment than we were before 9 a.m. Monday. We have an issue in this city, in this state, in this nation, about how we deal with justice.
We have a sacred duty as a municipal government, as a police department, not to exact justice but to deliver people into the criminal justice system to ask questions and to deal with those questions. We equip our department that is given that sacred duty very well to make those deliveries to the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, once again, this citizen was delivered to the morgue instead of a jail to await trial.
Yes, violence happens in all shapes and forms between citizen and citizen. But again, this is a sacred duty of government. We should be focusing on policy and tactics to disarm people, instead of shooting to kill. We do not live in a society that should accept the antiquated brand of “Found Dead or Alive” justice. I like the idea of “Arrive Alive Every Time.”
We haven’t changed our approach to this idea of justice and criminal justice, and dealing with people who are perceived as threats to our community. There are so many dichotomies at hand. How do we deal with people with firearms when we live in an open-carry state? How do police officers logically de-escalate a situation while emotionally responding to a life-or-death situation? How do we mold a law-enforcement response to deal with a health or emotional crisis?
In our government responses, we usually deal with those last few seconds of an incident, and we need to find a better way to do this. There are old Observer articles floating around social media, which focus on the winding road of Mr. Franklin and his triumphs over adversity in his younger years. It is gut wrenching to read the comments of people who walked with Danquirs on his path as a younger man. The odds were against Mr. Franklin from the moment he came into this world. By all accounts, it appears the stresses of life weighed on him too heavily, and we were not able to provide him the services to help his mind, body and soul.
This must be a collaborative effort. It’s not something we that can do just from City Hall. It’s something that we must continue to do with community partners, with county, state, and federal leaders to really change the paradigm of how we deal with someone’s worst day while still ensuring our No. 1 responsibility of ensuring the public’s safety.
My heart goes out to the family and friends of Danquirs Franklin, who is not with them now and forever. There are wounds that are open and will never heal.
Again, as we deal with violence, as we deal with threats to our community — these are issues that call for a cultural response and not just a policy. I know we’ll continue to work on this from our dais, within our organization, with CMPD, in our community relations committee, and with the many community activists and leaders who are dedicated to the cause. Our future depends on it.