John Deem, the Senior Editor of a suburban Charlotte community newspaper called the Lake Norman Citizen wrote a thoughtful opinion piece this week about a “die in” protest that Davidson College students conducted during their community’s recent Christmas festival to protest the nation’s epidemic of police killings. (He also took the photo at left.)
One might quibble with a point or two that Deem makes, but the spirit of his piece and his hopeful support for the Davidson students is a welcome addition to the discussion.
As Deem notes:
“Each of the protestors Saturday wore the name of a person who died at the hands of a police officer. While that didn’t necessarily imply that each cop in those examples was guilty of using undue force, it did illustrate a trend that was troubling to the students, and to many other Americans.
The underlying reasons for that trend are the subject of intense debate, of course. The reactions range from, ‘Don’t cause trouble in the first place and you won’t have a problem,’ to, ‘I don’t have to do anything and the cops will still hassle me because I’m black.’ From, ‘You can’t truly understand the decisions a police officer has to make until you have to make them yourself,’ to, ‘You can’t truly understand what it’s like to be black and feel targeted by the cops just because of the color of your skin.’
Most of us live in a world comfortably between those extremes. And most police officers of all races, despite some tragic exceptions, conduct themselves honorably. Tying all cops to those who employ excessive force is its own form of discrimination.
One thing we can all agree on is that, for a variety of reasons, a racial disconnect persists in America. The good news is that if some of our most promising young people are willing to spend their Saturday night lying on a wet street in Davidson in an effort to demonstrate their concern over an issue — as remote as it might seem to most of us — then there’s hope that they, as future leaders, will someday be part of the solution.”