As peaceful protests go, the latest event in Charlotte was a success. The regret that all the community felt, however, is that the peaceful, law-abiding protest was marred by violence and loss of a life.
No city likes having to call in the National Guard. The visual of armed troops on American streets has sent a deliberate message since the 1960's: "Do not question the state's authority to enforce law and order." While it is a statement that few chose to challenge, National Guard and city-wide curfews become a last resort for city leadership in an effort to maintain public safety.
l've come to learn over my years as a Charlottean, that that is not what Charlotte is. That is not who we are. What I saw in the violence and looting in the uptown streets that Wednesday night was the worst of humanity come to bear. There is no comparing the criminals of that night to the community members and community leadership who rightfully engaged in peaceful protest.
If we do not learn from that day, if we do not better our city and ourselves as a result of that action, then all that was lost, and all that was gained, will simply disappear into history.
And as I write about the future, I know with certainty that police will continue to confront potential threats and they will continue to deal with these potential threats in the interest of public safety. We as a society have bestowed the moral weight of administering deadly force to our protectors. That will not change, because someone, some force, must be there to protect our society. The citizenry does not want that responsibility placed upon their shoulders, and rightly so. Violent, justified deadly incidents will continue to occur, just as they have since the creation of modern law enforcement. As a society we must prepare not only our families, but our businesses and our communities for the eventuality of future civil unrest. We must continue to empower our leaders from the community, clergy, law enforcement and city government to work on our behalf to de-escalate potentially violent situations before they erupt onto our city streets.
We have been social tribes since the beginning of mankind. From that we have learned that as a community we stand strong. As I said earlier, peaceful protest has been a foundation of our democracy, and justice is not a buzz word. It is something we must live out daily in all aspects of our personal and professional lives. We all want a thriving, prosperous Charlotte.
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