A Charlotte pastor believes he’s found a way to ease tensions between police and the African-American community.
Pastor Keith Johnson is using social media for a campaign he hopes repairs trust between the two.
Johnson tells WBTV, a media partner of the Observer, that the idea came from a question he asked while riding in the car with his two sons.
“What would it be like if we could get beyond the badge, get beyond the color?” Johnson said.
Johnson says he saw an officer in his neighborhood and decided to pull over and have a conversation with him.
“At first it threw me back and I was like, wait, ‘Dad what are you doing stopping a police officer?'” Johnson’s son Kyle said.
Johnson says what followed was an unexpected conversation that formed a relationship.
“I got a chance to get to know him, and he got a chance to get to know me. He’s a Marine, he’s protected our country for 21 years as a Marine. Eleven years as a Charlotte police officer, never shot anybody,” Johnson said.
Preconceived notions formed by Johnson and his son, quickly made way for trust.
“I guarantee you the highest amount of police officers are not thinking ‘today is the day I’m going to kill someone,’ ” Johnson said.
Johnson posted the photo to social with the hash tag #StopPolice!, challenging others to do the same.
“I think there’s a lot of fear, and I think it’s an unwarranted fear. We see these stories that get publicized and we don’t even want to talk. We just shut down,” Kyle said.
It’s easy to fear the unknown, but Johnson wonders what the world would be like if more people took that step remembering there’s a human behind the badge.
Johnson believes it works both ways. He hopes officers in the community are as willing to meet the ones they protect, as the officers that he’s already encountered.
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SOURCE: Charlotte Observer / WBTV – Sarah-Blake Morgan