Charlotte erupted; Tulsa prayed.
That was the headline, not from a Christian news source, but from CNN (here).
I live near Tulsa. And like many, my emotions swung wildly this week between gut-wrenching sadness and seething rage. Both are justified.
Yet another unarmed black man killed, a damning video, and the predictable flood of shameful justifications for why “it’s not what it looks like.”
Let’s be clear: it is what it looks like.
And the possibility of drugs in Terence Crutcher’s system doesn’t justify homicide.
Meanwhile, in Charlotte, there was another shooting: a black cop, a black man killed, and the allegation that the deceased was pointing a gun at officers. Buildings were burned, stores were looted, and many were injured–including innocent police officers and civilians.
Two very different scenarios.
Two very different reactions.
Charlotte burned; Tulsa prayed.
To be clear, this is not an attempt to bash Charlotte. And I fully admit that there are things about the broader situation there of which I am unaware.
Nor is it an attempt to “tamp down” protests or anger.
In the Bible, prayer itself can be an act of protest–a revolt against the status quo–and it is sometimes very angry.
Thus my point is only about Tulsa.
WHY I’M PROUD
Because while I am deeply ashamed that this shooting took place, I am proud of how many Tulsans reacted.
A few examples:
- There were peaceful protests, with many looking more like prayer vigils made up of persons of all races.
- Churches led the way, inviting the community to channel anger and grief in constructive ways, rather than giving the prejudiced deniers of injustice more cause to dismiss the unsettling reality of racism.
- The police released the videos almost immediately, in a step toward transparency. This didn’t happen in Charlotte, and many have connected this to prolonged distrust between citizens and the authorities.
- The police chief stated immediately and unequivocally that Terence Crutcher was unarmed, because it was true.
- The DA’s office investigated promptly, and filed charges against the officer involved. She was arrested and will have a chance to defend herself.
- And through all of this, no buildings burned, no stores were looted, and no police officers or civilians were injured by angry mobs.
This is an answered prayer, because one reason for taking police misconduct seriously is a desire to protect and honor brave and honest cops who do a thankless and impossible job.
Sadly, none of this brings Terence Crutcher back to his four kids. And none of it means that the problem of racial injustice has gone away—even (or perhaps especially) in Tulsa.
Still, amid the sadness and anger, I am proud of how Tulsa’s people have responded.
Now let’s work to ensure that such occasions for pride (and shame) happen far less frequently.
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