Reflections On Walter Scott: "In Cold Blood"

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I don’t know what it’s like to have the benefits of White privilege, but I know all about what it’s like to live as a Black man in America.

Here’s what Black privilege grants me: I check the tail lights and headlights of my car every day before I leave home, while I’m out, and after I return home.

I’m well-trained in the protocols of either being pulled over by the police for a traffic stop, or encountering them at a checkpoint. I’m unerringly polite, totally cooperative, and I’m slow and deliberate in my movements inside the car.

I willingly submit to having my vehicle searched if and when asked because all the authorities will find is a clean interior. There will be no alcohol, no weapon, or anything out of order present. My auto insurance, my vehicle registration, and my driver’s license are all as they should be. Having all those things in place may seem routine to you.

However, having those things in place could conceivably be a matter of life and death for people like me – and for people like Walter Scott who was buried yesterday.

Last Saturday morning, a week ago, it happened again in North Charleston, South Carolina. An unarmed Black man, plus a White police officer, plus a traffic stop, equals that unarmed Black man dead – face down and handcuffed in the grass. Again? Heaven above – not again.

Folks, this is beyond ethnicity at this point. It’s not about Black or White or Brown anymore. For me – and for you – it’s about the human race.The video of Walter Scott’s final seconds on this planet is ubiquitous and sickening. I love animals – particularly dogs. If a person had shot a stray dog eight times in the back as it ran away, and I found out about it, I would want that individual prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

I would want him or her put in the hole under the jail under the prison for killing that animal so needlessly. That would be doubly the case if it had been my dog, my beloved pet. Now imagine Walter Scott – a human being – being gunned down that same way in broad daylight. He was a father, a brother, a son, a friend, and a Christian. He was someone with hopes and dreams and fears just like you and me. How did policeman Michael Slager’s pulling Scott over for a broken tail light result in Scott being shot to death – and Slager being arrested and charged with murder? Two lives destroyed in the span of minutes. Not to mention their families.

A busted tail light now warrants lethal force? Not on earth.

Feidin Santana – the Dominican young man who recorded the now infamous video of Scott’s death with his cellphone as it occurred – came forward mainly because he now fears for his own life. Santana stated, “I won't deny I knew the magnitude of this" and "I felt that my life with this information might be in some danger. I thought about erasing the video and getting out of the community, leaving North Charleston. It’s not something that no one can feel happy about. He has his family, Mr. Scott also has his family. But I think, you know, (the officer) made a bad decision, and you pay for your decisions in this life.”

Santana, who has broken no laws, is afraid of possible police retaliation. An innocent, unarmed man of color afraid of the police. Again.

I know without question that being a police officer is as dangerous a job as it is necessary. I cannot imagine how difficult it must be. The vast majority of law enforcement officers are well-trained, courteous, professional, intelligent, articulate, and extremely brave. They proudly wear the badge as they protect and serve. These men and women are entirely worthy of society’s respect and appreciation.

However, human beings are inherently flawed. There will always be that small number of police officers who ignore their training in lieu of their own violent tendencies, self-righteous behaviors, and prejudices. One such officer’s actions can taint and tarnish the continuous accomplishments of America’s finest.

This has to stop. It’s officially out of hand. Armed police officers cannot kill unarmed people who are either far away from their proximity, running away from them, or haven’t at least verbally threatened to attack them. This must be the platinum standard for all Americans: young or old, rich or poor, male or female, Black or White, and Republican or Democrat.

If necessary, make this the next Constitutional Amendment. The issue isn’t political, it’s ethical.

We will surely learn much more about this case soon. Investigations are underway.

I believe in God, His people, and in America. Sadly, I also believe what happened to Walter Scott is bound to reoccur. Again.


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