Piers Morgan for MailOnline
08:15 EST, 23 September 2016
09:44 EST, 23 September 2016
Another week, another police killing of a black man in America.
We don’t yet know exactly what led to the death of father-of-seven Keith Scott, 43, in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Was he carrying a gun?
Did he brandish that gun at police officers?
Were they justified in fearing for their lives and using lethal force?
These are vital questions that as yet remain unanswered, not least because video of the encounter has yet to be made public.
Father-of-seven Keith Scott, 43, right, was killed by police in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the video of the encounter has yet to be made public
Scott’s family have been shown police dashboard and body-cam footage of his final moments.
They claim it shows him behaving in a ‘very calm, non-aggressive’ manner before he’s shot, his hands remaining by his side, and that he was actually walking backwards when the fatal bullets were fired.
They previously insisted he was carrying a book he had been reading, not a gun.
Police insist no book was found at the scene, that Scott was carrying a gun, that he refused repeated demands to put down his gun, and made an ‘obvious threat’ towards them.
Until all the videos are made public, it is impossible to pass informed judgement.
And even if they are made public, it seems there is no definitive proof of exactly what he was carrying or doing.
So it may only serve to increase confusion, fuel speculation, and make matters worse.
But what we DO know is that Scott wasn’t killed by a racist white cop because of the color of his skin.
How do we know this?
Because Officer Brentley Vinson, the cop who pulled the trigger, is black.
We also know that the head of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police department leading the investigation doesn’t have a white racist bias on what happened either.
But we know the shooting wasn’t racially motivated. The police chief, Kerr Putney, left, is black, as is the officer who shot Mr Scott, Brentley Vinson, right
How do we know this?
Because Chief Kerr Putney is also black.
So this wasn’t a racially-motivated cop killing. How could it be?
It was, however, a catastrophic police error whatever the circumstances.
Because the police were actually looking for somebody else.
There was no good reason for Keith Scott to be confronted in the way he was as he waited for one of his children.
The results of this dreadful mistake have been catastrophic.
Violent protests erupted all over Charlotte.
Cars were smashed up, windows broken, fires started, bars and restaurants attacked.
One man was shot dead by another civilian in the chaotic scenes.
Looters were seen gleefully smashing windows and grabbing items from stores.
All of this is completely unacceptable.
The right to protest is a fundamental tenet of a democratic society but the right to protest violently is not.
Nor is the right to use a protest to line your own pockets by indiscriminate thieving.
There are racist idiots on both sides of this issue.
We saw horrifying footage of black protestors badly beating up a white man simply because he was white. It was disgusting to watch.
A North Carolina congressman said people are protesting in Charlotte because they ‘hate white people.’ Above, Robert Pittenger went on CNN to try and apologize for the horrific remarks
We also had a glimpse into the equally horrifying and disgusting mind-set of a senior local politician.
Asked to give his opinion about the protestors, Republican congressman Robert Pettinger sneered: ‘They hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not.’
It’s hard to imagine a more stupid, inflammatory thing to say at such a delicate time.
It wasn’t just deeply patronising and offensive, it was also factually absurd.
In Pettinger’s own world of American politics, the most successful person is a black man, Barack Obama.
The richest, most successful American TV star is a black woman, Oprah Winfrey.
The most bankable movie star is a black man, Will Smith.
The most successful musicians are a black woman, Beyoncé, and a black man, Kanye West.
The most successful sportsmen and women are predominantly black, from Le Bron James to Serena Williams.
So black Americans can be just as successful as whites, Mr Pettinger, you pig-ignorant douchebag.
The results of the shooting were days of protests – but the protesters don’t hate white people because they’re more successful. They hate a system that continues to deal them an unfair hand
These protestors in Charlotte don’t hate white people because they’re more successful.
They hate a system and society created largely by white people that continues to deal them an unfair hand in life.
This isn’t just supposition, it’s a demonstrable, statistical fact.
Black Americans remain worse educated, receive worse health care, and are more punitively incarcerated than whites.
They also get shot dead more often by the police.
Until the damning reality of these simple facts changes, racial inequality in America will continue to rage and continue to inspire anger and resentment.
How can it change?
Well not by violence. All that begets, as we have seen all too luridly in recent days, is more violence.
No, change will come through dialogue, debate and compromise.
I may have been a little hasty when I criticised Colin Kaepernick for protesting during the national anthem. To me, his original decision to remain seated smacked of woeful disrespect. But Kaepernick listened to that criticism and modified his protest to kneeling
At this point, I want to make an admission that I may have been a little hasty when I criticised NFL star Colin Kaepernick – another of those successful black Americans that Rep Pettinger doesn’t think exists – for protesting during the national anthem.
To me, his original decision to remain seated smacked of woeful disrespect to his country and especially the military veterans that the anthem and the flag honor.
But Kaepernick listened to that criticism and modified his protest to a far more respectful kneeling, rather than sitting.
He compromised, aware that his message was being drowned out by fury at his method of protest.
I, in turn, have now modified and compromised my view of what he is doing.
Kaepernick’s central complaint is that American society does not treat black people in the same way as whites.
He’s absolutely right, it doesn’t.
It’s undeniably come a long way since the days of slavery, but there is still a long way to go.
It’s not just Scott. The killing Terence Crutcher, unarmed and shot dead by police earlier this week with his hands up, is symptomatic of the deep-rooted racial and societal divisions
The killing of Keith Scott – and that of another black man, Terence Crutcher, who was unarmed and needlessly shot dead by police earlier this week – is symptomatic of the deep-rooted racial and societal divisions that lie at the heart of this struggle for equality.
Scott was just a dad minding his own business when he was confronted by police officers.
He was instantly apprehensive they might shoot him, and they were equally apprehensive he might shoot them.
As with so many of these situations in gun-ridden America, this mutual apprehension quickly escalated to a deadly resolution.
Keith Scott was thus killed, and seven children now no longer have their father.
The most significant image of this past week is not the burning cars in Charlotte. It’s the picture on the front cover of Time
It’s hardly surprising that many black Americans simply don’t trust the police. There have been too many of these needless deaths of members of their communities for that to be even remotely possibly.
But the right way to stop this happening again and again is not for black Americans to loot, shoot and exact revenge.
It’s for black Americans to protest in a way that crosses into mainstream consciousness and effects real change.
The most significant image of this past week is not the burning cars in Charlotte.
It’s the picture of Colin Kaepernick kneeling on the front cover of Time magazine, peacefully and respectfully making his voice heard.
That voice is now resonating in a singularly powerful way across America.
It’s time we all listened to him.
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