Tulsa Oklahoma, the supposed buckle of the Bible Belt, is the home of the worse race riot in American history!
In a 60 Minutes Interview in 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “I contend that the cry of “Black Power” is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro. I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard. And, what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the economic plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years……..It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”
I didn’t want to watch the video of Terrence Crutcher being shot by police, even though it happened right here in the city where I’ve lived for 45 years, not to mention, I actually knew Terrence and his family. It is no small thing to witness the end of a human life. Just 2 days ago, I was in the ICU room of a dear and precious 84 year old spiritual mother I’ve called Aunt Mamie for the last 50+ years as she took her last breath. It was painful, but precious and sublimely powerful. I sang to her through tears as she peacefully transitioned to her next dimension of consciousness. We sorrowed, but it was sweet sorrow, because we were prepared to release her to God and she was ready to go. In those cases, it’s always a sacred experience and a holy event. However, watching death play out on television or on my computer screen feels clumsy, calloused and irreverent in ways I find most bothersome. The transition we call death is a sacred reality that I hold lightly–but never take lightly, whether it occurs naturally or violently. Both dying and birthing are natural, but killing is obtuse, abstract and against human nature. Living and loving take many forms… including laughter, lamentation, anger, despair, confusion, conviction and compunction. I’m sure the police officer who killed Terrence, along with her family, are experiencing all of these emotions as well. Unless she’s a zombie, she remains a tortured spirit.
Viewing a death that is trending in the news as this one is, somehow feels like complicity in a culture of violence as entertainment. The media seems to pounce on things like this as a competition for viewers around which they sell commercial time more than simply informing people of the news. Every death viewed on the screen, whether across the ocean or on the streets of the city where you live, can desensitize us to the realities of the vice of violence, and assaults the sanctity of life overall. It seems irreverent for millions of people to watch the last few seconds of Terrence Crutcher’s life, as though it were a show that we watch on FX after the kids go to bed. He was the father of four.
While cops killing African Americans has become an all-too common narrative, according to data from a police violence advocacy group, Oklahoma cops kill black people at a higher rate than any state in the country.
Of the 30 black people killed by police in Oklahoma, seven were unarmed. Charges were only filed against the officer or officers in two of those seven cases. By comparison, charges also were filed against officers who killed Caucasians on two occasions, but there were 18 more white people killed by police than black people—and in one of the cases, the suspect who was killed was armed. The other was an unarmed woman whose vehicle was struck by a police cruiser.
Only a tiny fraction of Oklahoma’s police-involved shootings results in charges.
This suggests that there is a systemic problem with frightened, careless and often ego-driven, trigger happy or trigger hyper police officers who are basically licensed to kill, while also assigned and committed to serve and protect. This issue must not go unnoticed, un-noted or un-dealt with! If we ignore it further, distrust in legal authority will result in anarchy, lawlessness, civil disobedience and civil war in this country.
Keith Lamont Scott, the black man killed by a black police officer in Charlotte, has a criminal record including shooting a man, being indicted for assault and was in jail until 2011. Under North Carolina law, Scott would have been prohibited from owning firearms or ammunition because he’d been convicted of a violent felony. When he was 30, in 2003, a Bexar County, Texas, grand jury indicted him on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and evading arrest with a vehicle after Scott allegedly shot a man the previous year. Scott pleaded no contest and was sentenced to more than eight years in prison after his 2005 conviction. He was released in April 2011, Robert Hurst with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice told CNN.
I have strong feelings against accusing or endorsing criminality, just because of color. We need a balanced approached that doesn’t make wrong look right or consistently tolerated, but still not use the death penalty without due process, as was in the case of the man in Charlotte, a father of 7 children and according to his family, a mama’s boy who phoned his mother daily.
Brantley Vinson, the black officer who shot Keith Lamont Scott, another black man, grew up in Charlotte, was a football star in high school, and dreamed of becoming a police officer like his father.
Vinson was all-conference in football as a high school junior, but was unable to play during his senior year due to a serious knee injury. The next year, he played at a prep school, earning a scholarship to “Liberty University,” the ultra-conservative Evangelical college, founded by the late Jerry Falwell who was succeeded by his son Jerry Falwell Jr, a Trump supporter. At Liberty, Vinson studied criminal justice. Don’t want to read anything into this observation, but it does seem curious, eh?
I attended a wonderful interfaith service last night held at a prominent African American Baptist church here in Tulsa. We’re determined to do only peaceful demonstrations here and refuse to be influenced by outside agitators of any kind bent on causing rioting of any kind.
Thank God that so far here in Tulsa, the city of the worse and most violent race riot in American history, this tragedy has been met with balanced passion, dignity and camaraderie by both the combined cultural and interfaith community and local government officials. We hope to be an example of justice served and human decency preserved. We believe peace is possible!
SOURCE: Carlton D Pearson Facebook