On Tuesday afternoon, September 20, 2016, Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year old African American, was shot and killed by Officer Brentley Vinson, also an African American, of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg (NC) Police Department.
This is irrefutable. All else concerning this tragic encounter is in dispute.
The police claim that Mr. Scott wielded a gun and refused several commands to drop the weapon. Considered an “imminent deadly threat,” Mr. Scott was shot. The police maintain that the weapon in Mr. Scott’s possession was recovered at the scene.
Mr. Scott’s family counters that he was holding a book and posed no danger to anyone.
The authorities are in possession of video footage recorded on police body and dashboard cameras. To date, it remains kept from public view, both Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney citing the necessity of maintaining the integrity of the police investigation.
Yesterday, Mr. Scott’s wife, Rakeiya Scott, released a video of the incident taken on her cell phone. Watching the video, I heard her ardent appeals to the police not to shoot her husband, telling them that he had a traumatic brain injury and had taken his medicine, her pleading with Mr. Scott “not to do it” (what “it” was being unclear), the sound of gunfire, and Mr. Scott’s fallen body surrounded by police officers.
The killing of Mr. Scott has provoked several days of protests. Charlotte Uprising, “a (community) coalition…committed to ensuring the safety of their communities…police accountability, transparency and social and economic equity,” has developed a list of ten petitions under the heading We Demand. Number 5 reads in part: “A release of the police report and body camera footage connected with the killing of Keith L. Scott…”
I think the authorities ought to release the police video for public viewing because I believe what’s at stake is more important than police investigative procedures. The issue is one of public trust that black lives matter enough to be protected; the reinforcement, the refurbishment of which cannot begin, much less be achieved without fullest transparency. If and until that happens, I believe the protests, peaceful and involving no harm to human life or property damage, ought continue…
On a related note, the Republican Party presidential candidate, Donald Trump, at an evening campaign rally, coincidentally in North Carolina and on Tuesday, September 20, declared that black communities in America are “absolutely in the worst shape that they’ve ever been in before. Ever. Ever. Ever…You take a look at the inner cities, you get no education, you get no jobs, you get shot walking down the street. They’re worse – I mean, honestly, places like Afghanistan are safer than some of our inner cities.”
This statement is a part of Mr. Trump’s presumed appeal to African American voters, “What have you got to lose (in voting for me)”; though oddly, I think, in this recent instance and at other times previously, proclaimed before largely white audiences.
Yes, I believe African Americans, relative to white Americans, continue to experience, to suffer disparities of opportunity and fulfillment in the vital fields of economics, education, health, and social justice. Yet these substantial difficulties cannot compare to the horrors of institutional slavery and the era of Jim Crow law.
Mr. Trump has proven himself to me to have a feeble grasp of history and a more fragile hold on truth. His statement, woefully lacking in accuracy and in reality is a lie about black people and, thus, a black lie.
The protests – by all people who treasure truth – ought continue until black lies matter enough to be rejected.
 For me, ought, along with must and should, is always a heavily morally-weighted-and-freighted-word, inferring to do otherwise is immoral. Because this triumvirate of terms bears an unmistakable force of judgment, I use them infrequently and carefully.
 See The National Urban League’s Locked Out – Education, Jobs, Justice: A Message to the Next President (www.stateofblackamerca.org)