“Race,” Policing, and the Theological and Social Divide: Reflections on Recent Events in Charlotte and Elsewhere – Part 2

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The following is written by a very dear old friend, ministerial colleague,native Charlottean, and former police officer, Rev. Bryan Jackson. Bryan has been kind enough to allow me to share this thought-provoking piece here, for which I am most grateful. While it was written as a single piece, I am presenting to you in two parts with Bryan’s permission. 

Part 2:

On a technical note and as a point of reference, television and movies often portray law enforcement officers not firing until the suspect’s firearm is pointed directly at them. This sort of nonsense propagates the notion that no officer-involved shooting is justified absent this scenario. It is not the LEO’s responsibility to wait until he or she has a bead drawn on their forehead to fire. Again, somewhere in the American psyche, we have promoted more fairy tales to serve as authenticity. It is simply bad police work to not fire “until fired upon” in a situation as deadly as a suspect with a weapon, or a suspect who clearly has the ability and intention of relieving you of yours. It’s real-life law enforcement, not some virtual reality gaming application. And it is bad public policy to use race as a vehicle for local, state, national, or religious political gain. Scratch that. It’s unconscionable.

On that note, are we training a new generation of police that can’t seem to determine a real threat from an imaginary one? Are we entertaining a trans-generation of people who have no understanding of personal responsibility and no regard for authority, instead becoming both sociological and de-facto wards of the state? Could it be that the actual threats are changing in this country—that traumatic brain injury or some form of altered mental state has people (many with extensive—and I mean extensive—interstate criminal histories) driving, carrying guns, and performing activities that common sense says they shouldn’t be, needlessly provoking a police altercation? And how is it that these offenders warrant martyrdom on the contemporary stage of public discourse?

It seems improper in any case to put the cart before the horse. Before we fry our public servants at the public square, let’s reconsider. Ironically, in my own experience in each profession (or calling, if you will), I discovered something rather peculiar: Interestingly enough, I actually endured more devious, underhanded, soul-wrenching behavior in ministry overall than I ever did in law enforcement. So I’m not sold that education, social position, and some sort of professional religious commissioning makes for clarity and conviction, much less a copyright on “righteous rage.” Conversely, it often lends confusion where none is warranted, sometimes by professionals who have spent their career working out their own issues at the expense of others.

For quite some time I was torn. Yet, with each passing incident, I’m less conflicted because reason has been abandoned in favor of politics and publicity. I understand the Charlotte protests that turned so violent were operating, at least in part, under the auspices of the “Black Lives Matter” movement. I’ve noticed that their protests often result in more people getting hurt and, tragically—in the Charlotte event—killed. What’s that about? In their defense, I am convinced of the existence of a separate entity, traveling from city to city that inserts within these protests with the intent of creating chaos and violence. This is nothing new in this country. But even that doesn’t speak to the frame of mind of the persons I’ve described who are convinced police are bent toward a hyper-focus on black men.

“Black Lives Matter” and its direction has also been questioned by others, like Rev. Barbara Reynolds in this WaPo piece HERE . I don’t know where Rev. Reynolds stands on the issue today but her 2015 comments were thought-provoking. But again I argue—whether or not critics are correct—that misunderstanding and lack of genuine communication is the problem.

Over time, instead of providing possible answers to serious but potentially solvable problems, we have given authority to what someone once phrased as “causes in search of an issue,” where little productive thinking gets done. By that I mean the absurd habit of blaming police officers for doing their jobs precisely the way they were trained to do them, and ultimately doing harm (e.g., the public and departmental sacrifice of Officer Wilson and his family in Ferguson). Can police training improve? No doubt. Is current training sufficient to deal with the growing number of mental health issues and lack of respect for authority I’m seeing play out in America’s streets? Maybe not, but that doesn’t mean that people with no experience or knowledge of police administration should dictate police policy, calling for ancillary resignations and convicting cops in the court of public opinion. Nor does it give clergy license as leaders to distort reality.

So, is there hope for these problems that seem to be multiplying as we move down the road between the past and the present? Can we resolve our differences? I don’t have the answer and never laid claim, but being part of the conversation and openness to dialogue is always a start, as is continued interest in one’s hometown and nation. Just as important is the willingness to call others on their determination to lay blame in places that make them feel better about themselves or experience an elevation in their social or professional standing in the name of civil disobedience.

If I’m wrong and it truly is about race itself, is that hope even realistic?

The Rev. Bryan Jackson is a Charlotte, North Carolina native and graduate of the 91st Recruit Class of the Charlotte Police Academy. Now an ordained minister and writer, he resides in Washington State. All rights of this article are reserved to Rev. Jackson. ©

Rev. Amy here. Many, many thanks to Rev. Bryan for sharing this thoughtful, insightful piece with us. I am honored that he was willing to allow me to post it at my blog. Thanks you, Bryan!

I look forward to your thoughts, queries, and comments on this excellent piece. 

As a reminder, for those who are interested, the Vice Presidential Debate airs tonight at 9:00 pm on a number of stations.

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16 Responses to ““Race,” Policing, and the Theological and Social Divide: Reflections on Recent Events in Charlotte and Elsewhere – Part 2”

  1. kenoshamarge Says:

    “Enjoyed” the second part as much as the first, if “enjoyed” is the right word. Whatever the word is this is an excellent post.

    Reverend Bryan makes perfect sense. His knows his topic and knows it well. Which means that his is a voice crying in the wilderness.

    The media certainly doesn’t want facts and common sense. No ratings in that.

    The politicians can’t use facts and common sense to ramp up the anger and angst of their “base” to get votes.

    And far too many people have lost the ability to think for themselves.

    No police officer should ever wait to fire until a gun-totting person draws a bead on them. What stupidity would think that? And someone waving a gun around is a danger to more than just an officer. If they don’t fire and an innocent bystander is killed/harmed they will be pilloried for that.

    If you don’t want to end up on a slab in the morgue don’t wave a gun around, obey the police officers demands and live to protest or sue or whatever floats you boat another day.

    • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

      I know what you mean, Marge! And glad you “enjoyed” it. I think Rev. Bryan hit it out of the park. And again, I am thankful that he allowed me to print his piece here.

      As for how not to get shot, you ain’t only kidding. There was a great letter to my local paper yesterday on this very topic. From the Post and Courier:

      I have the perfect solution to reduce to zero the killings of our black brethren by police officers. Good citizens already know this: Simply show respect when stopped by an officer and obey any commands he gives you. It will stop 100 percent of shootings by police officers.

      On the other hand is the false narrative spoken by Rep. James Clyburn that somehow a person’s manhood is challenged when he is stopped by the police.

      The false narrative that the liberal progressives keep spouting off about is worn out. Only uninformed and misinformed citizens subscribe to that narrative.

      Zero tolerance for rioting and looting should be adopted by every community.

      Peaceful protest is a right provided by the Constitution. Rioting, violence and looting are crimes.

      Police should use whatever methods required to maintain order. They are showing too much restraint when faced with the criminal element that infiltrates peaceful protest. At the very first sign of violence, mobs must be disbanded. Immobilize them by any means if they do not obey the command to disband and return home.

      • kenoshamarge Says:

        What a great letter. Thanks for sharing. It lifts the spirits to know there are some people with brains and integrity around.

        • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

          Absolutely, Marge – glad to know three are others out there who believe in personal responsibility!

  2. kenoshamarge Says:

  3. kenoshamarge Says:

    Federal Judge Tosses Ferguson Protesters’ Lawsuit Against Cops: ‘Completely Failed to Present Any Credible Evidence’

    “U.S. District Judge Henry Autrey on Friday ruled in favor of summary judgment motions filed by police, police officials, St. Louis County and the city of Ferguson,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. “Autrey wrote that protesters were told to disperse, and when they did not and officers were ordered to begin making arrests, those officers gave repeated warnings before they started arresting protesters.”

    http://www.dailywire.com/news/9669/federal-judge-tosses-ferguson-protesters-41m-james-barrett

    • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

      BWAHAHAHAHA – oh, this makes me happy. Good for the court for not caving to public opinion on this issue. Those rioters/protesters deserved to be arrested. So yeah – that’s the LAW and no one is immune to it no matter how much certain people might think they are!

  4. kenoshamarge Says:

    Obama Administration Tells Black Parents Their School Choices Are Racist

    The U.S. Department of Justice has resurrected a 1965 case to impose its will on a Mississippi school district, ignoring local efforts to integrate through school choice.

    In the heart of the Mississippi Delta stands a city that has overcome an economy built and sustained on slave labor, a cotton industry built on the backs of field hands, and now a high school that has integrated itself more equitably than any school in the Delta.

    But while Cleveland, Mississippi, has transformed itself from the land up, federal government has chosen to make the city’s schools a national example, forcing local schools to consolidate in the name of desegregation. But many local families of all races don’t want that, and they don’t necessarily consider the effects their individual choices to constitute systemic racism.

    http://thefederalist.com/2016/10/04/obama-administration-tells-black-parents-school-choices-racist/

    This is why top-down Federal Bureaucracy doesn’t work. And why Federal Bureaucrats who think they know what is best for communities – don’t!

    • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

      Can you believe this guy? He really is something. It is just ridiculous the way in which the Left tends to treat school choice and charter schools.

      And you are so right – what a great example of how top-down bureaucracy does not work…

  5. Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

    On a personal note, as many of you may know, Hurricane Matthews is heading toward the East Coast. Our Governor has issued a mandatory evacuation for those of us who live on the coast.

    That would be us. We live on a barrier island south of Charleston. Suzy is out of town until tomorrow night, but Thurs., we will be hightailing it out of town with all of our animals in one car. THAT should be interesting! Anyway, just wanted to let y’all know what was happening. It is a BEAUTIFUL night right now with a gorgeous sunset over the marsh. But that will change over the course f the next few days…

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