It is a sad routine. Two worlds collide when a black man encounters a white officer. The encounter results in the officer fatally shooting the man. Race is immediately assumed to be the motivation. Certain elements in the community express varying levels of rage and anger. The media turns a local collision of two souls into a national crisis. The “Grievance Industry’s” troops parachute in to fan the flames of dissension. The end result, more often than not is the generation of much more heat than light. Race relations continue to slide as mistrust and bitterness are cultivated and regarded as virtues.
In this latest saga, a motorist was shot to death by a North Charleston Police Officer. Walter Scott was shot in the back. This time around there is damning video that leaves little doubt about what happened, though the whys and wherefores are yet to be discerned. Judy Scott, the grieving mother of the dead man is a refreshing presence in this maelstrom.
In an extraordinary interview conducted by CNN’s, Anderson Cooper, Scott quickly made it known that in this dark hour “the Lord is my strength”. She continued by expressing her hope that God is the reason she has hope for true justice. Scott also declared that the very presence of the person who shot the video is evidence of divine intervention.
The most strident communication she expressed was about “dirty cops” in the department, which is evidence of her wisdom and restraint. She did not spew wild and reckless accusations of a racial motive.
To top it off, Judy Scott described what people would probably expect from a grieving mother in her position: to be “angry, upset and raging.” She did not say she won’t be. Better yet Ms. Scott said she can’t… because of the love of God in her, “I can’t be like that,” she told Cooper. Instead she extended forgiveness from her heart, to Michael Slager, the man who gunned down her son.
Judy Scott’s interview was a journey into the supernatural. She is empowered internally by her relationship with God. And this stands starkly in contrast to what the modern Civil Rights industry fosters. So called “reverends” profess but clearly do not possess what resides within Ms. Scott. They project and promote the antithesis of what she is and does.
It did not take long for so called “civil rights leaders” to speak out of step with this exemplary mother. During a call for the South Carolina legislature to stop “dragging its feet” on a bill which will require all officers to wear cameras on their uniforms, Dot Scott, Charleston’s NAACP President said such legislation will “lessen the chance that any more black men will be used for target practice as Mr. Scott was”. Really! This kind of rhetoric is a great sound bite for a local television newscast, but it is not helpful in any effort to promote racial harmony.
There is such a thing as righteous indignation and a desire for justice is perfectly appropriate. However, the challenge is walking out these things without the venom, unproven racial allegations, and just pure rage. We can only hope that people follow the lead of Ms. Scott, a grieving mom, who is suffering the most. This mother’s example can light the way with love, strength, and wisdom.
Vince Coakley is a veteran broadcaster now hosting a daily radio talk show for WORD in Greenville, SC
***You can watch Anderson Cooper's interview with Judy Scott at this link