Two new police shooting controversies would seem to lend fresh validity to the laments about racial disparity in law enforcement and the complaints of an America unwilling to confront it.
There is no basis for either.
The African-American experience of disparate treatment in police stops is real. It can take the shape of “driving while black,” the needless attention afforded blacks at the wheel of nice cars, or heightened tensions that many believe would not happen with white citizens.
But the acknowledgment of a human failing in the human world of law enforcement does not mean it is applicable in every story.
Tulsa police helicopter video of Officer Betty Shelby sent armchair analysts into various rants, as if they knew what was going on at street level, where Terence Crutcher engaged in that most hazardous of practices, failing to do what the officer instructs. He was shot as he walked back to his vehicle against a lawful order.
I cannot exonerate Officer Shelby, but nor can she be condemned before investigative wheels properly turn. And they will turn, and fair-minded Americans of all races will wait to see where the facts and evidence lead.
The Charlotte shooting Tuesday is harder to shoehorn into a Black Lives Matter narrative; the officer who shot Keith Scott is black. But that did not restrain rioters who saw fit to carry their complaints onto the streets with a rampage of attacks on people and property.
By comparison, the national anthem snubs that had been filling headlines and talk shows seem positively polite. From the NFL to the high school level, players had been registering their frustrations on the issue by disrespecting the nation that allows them the freedom to speak out on any subject any time they wish — on their own time.
Sadly, NFL teams and schools, who have every right to expect players to keep their indignation to themselves on the sidelines, have largely caved, permitting behaviors showing contempt for the flag, the anthem and the nation being honored by teammates and fans all around them.
From riots to sideline displays, the saddest element of these excesses is that they are unnecessary. America is a nation wholly prepared to get to the bottom of shootings like Tulsa and Charlotte, or any that may follow.
Some examinations may show genuine police wrongdoing, as in the killing of Walter Scott, shot running away from an officer in North Charleston, S.C. Some may show that the officer acted in genuine concern for his life, as in Ferguson, Mo. Some may occupy a murky middle, as in the Freddie Gray case in Baltimore, where questions remain but a state attorney’s quest for street justice failed due to insufficient facts and evidence.
Again, facts and evidence. Our nation is ready to follow those beacons wherever they may lead. There is no American chorus dissuading probes into controversial shootings, but plenty of Americans have had it with rushes to judgment fueled by activist racial revenge. And most are in no mood to see athletes or anyone else (a Missouri state legislator sat for the Pledge of Allegiance last week) channel their indignation into hateful displays that disparage the entire nation.
The American system and the American people stand ready to take the proper journey toward learning which shootings are justified and which are not. Spurning our cherished national traditions, setting our streets ablaze with riots and other misplaced aggressions sadly hinder what would otherwise occur: a unified nation thoughtfully paying attention to any actual racial disparity problems in law enforcement
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