By Scott Kendall
In May of 1969, the University of California, Berkley planned to turn a college-owned plot of grassy land into a parking lot. Students, however, claimed the land as a park and organized a rally to protest the construction. Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan was, at the time, the governor of California and, upon hearing news of the protest, he sent large contingents of the California Highway Patrol and Berkeley Police Department to break up the rally. Soon, the rally turned into a riot, and the police began to use tear gas and buckshot on the crowds.
One person was killed and dozens were injured. A state of emergency was declared and the National Guard was mobilized. In a press conference, when challenged on these events, Ronald Reagan responded with the following: “All of it began when some of you who know better, and are old enough to know better, let young people think that they have the right to choose the laws they would obey, as long as they were doing it in the name of social protest.”
Clearly, these words are still applicable almost fifty years later. No matter what happens, nobody has the right to be purposely destructive and disruptive to the rest of society. The city of Charlotte, North Carolina is now beginning to return to the status quo after a full week of incessant rioting and protesting to the shooting of a black man by a black police officer. Now, some key facts are coming into light.
My father is a police officer, and because of that I probably have some sort of unintentional bias toward the subject of police brutality. I can, however, read the news without bias. Obviously, neither I nor anyone else has the right to judge someone without being fully informed, but a recent CNN article that I read contained some information regarding the type of man the victim of the shooting, Keith Scott, was. According to public records, one year ago in 2015, the victim’s wife had asked a court for a domestic violence protective order against her husband. She claimed that he had a gun, on several occasions physically abused her and their children, and even threatened to kill them. The article cites court filings which quote Ms. Scott as saying, “‘He said he is a ‘killer’ and we should know that…He has a 9mm [pistol] and threatened to use it last night.’”
In addition, the police reportedly recovered a gun at the scene, and have released dash-cam and body-cam footage of the shooting, all of which add up to a very different scenario than we are all used to hearing about in the news, which–put in a complete generalization–goes like this: an unarmed black man is stopped for apparently no reason by a white police officer, and something provokes the officer to shoot and kill him. When the public finds out about this, protesters fill the streets, which is understandable. However, it becomes unacceptable when these protesters turn violent and target citizens and police officers who clearly had nothing to do with the incident. Things were a little different for the shooting in Charlotte, in which a black man is on camera not complying with the police’s commands and the end result is this man being shot by a black police officer. Violence follows, people go out and stand up for a man killed by police. However, this man had a gun, was not following the very commands we are all told to follow, and most importantly, is on record as maybe not being as good of a man as the protesters made him out to be.
I would like to invite anyone reading this to search “All Lives Matter video” on Google or YouTube. In case you don’t have time to search it, I’ll sum it up for you. It’s horrifying. A white man does a “social experiment” in which he first holds a “Black Lives Matter” sign outside of a suburban, demographically white neighborhood. As people walk by, he asks them if they support the Black Lives Matter cause. Some say yes, some say no, some ignore him, and some respond by saying “all lives matter.” He then takes a sign saying “All Lives Matter” into a demographically black neighborhood. The result is quite different. People rip the sign out of his hands, tell him to leave, hit him, chase him, and swear at him. Perhaps some people not featured in the video told him they agree with him, but we cannot know that for certain. What we can see is that some people believe that their race takes priority over others, which is racism at its very heart.
Before you “take a side” on this issue, educate yourself. Research both sides of the issue. One thing is for certain. We cannot live in a world in which people parade the streets, chanting, “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want them? Now!” as viral videos have shown. No matter who you are, and what race you are, police officers will always protect you. These men and women have chosen one of the most honorable jobs in the world for you.