Reflections of Our City

by LeDayne McLeese Polaski / 27 September 2016 / No Comments

14479729_10209851351656999_2655434471419840859_nFrom Rev. Amanthan Barbee, Statesville Avenue Presbyterian Church

Our city is a place of unrest. There are so many unanswered questions, emotions, feelings, misunderstandings, and fears that we simply don’t know which way to turn. This is new to many of us.

As a native Charlottean, it’s easy to say, “this is not my city.” But the fact of the matter is, it is my city and my city is hurting. Charlotte has benefited from a great deal of peace over the years. But now, with the unexplained murders, not just this one, we find ourselves in quite a quandary. We find ourselves with a high level of distrust. We find ourselves with a plea for justice like never before.

When Mr. Scott was first murdered I wasn’t sure if the authorities should release the videos or not. I leaned toward the thought of “allowing” the authorities to gather all the facts and complete their investigation. I have now leaned the other way. We have so many videos in existence that I fear that many are coming to their own conclusions based upon an inexperienced view of these videos. The authorities need to answer in a way that does bring about transparency and addresses the concerns of the citizens as well as tells their truth. The city deserves this.

14462832_10209851360977232_1051381104758876986_nCharlotte is a part of a bigger issue in this country and the response of the citizens was unavoidable. We cannot expect citizens to accept that in all the shootings over the past two years there was never any police error. We are human and we err. This is a major part of the distrust. We are witnessing systemic racism and there is no way around that. It grieves me beyond anything I have ever seen.

Each night the protests formed a shape of their own. The first night was extreme anger, disrespect for police, disrespect for clergy and disrespect of fellow citizens. I found many of the protesters to be opportunists. On the other hand, there were citizens of Charlotte who were outraged and had very valid arguments and justified anger. Justified because the history was repeating itself so often and so similarly. The question became, “When will it stop?” We had to be the buffer between the police and the crowd. I do believe we made a difference and I thank God for that. God was with us. Steve Knight, Rodney Sadler, Robin Tanner and Corinne Mack were there on the front line with the help of other concerned citizens. God was truly with us.

The next night started peacefully and split into two very different groups. I applaud the Million Youth March group that wanted nothing to do with inappropriate protesting. They just wanted to be heard and they were very respectful in sharing their anger, concern, fears and their realities as young black Americans. The other group wanted to take the law into their own hands and a man died as a result. I cannot adequately describe the horror and reaction of the crowd to the smoke bombs and gas. Many ran and were trampled. Many were hurt. Hurting each other and destroying property is not the answer. Stealing property has absolutely nothing to do with Mr. Scott’s death, nothing! That angers me even more.

Rev. Amantha Barbee Statesville Avenue Presbyterian Church

Rev. Amantha Barbee

What further angers me is the fact that as the protests turned to peaceful, prayerful, organized protests, the media became disinterested. We didn’t hear the stories of gospel music being sung in the streets. We didn’t hear the stories of the prayers prayed by the crowd of 200 or more gathered. We didn’t hear the stories of citizens calming citizens with the explanation of peace as the reason why. They just wanted answers, respect and fairness. We didn’t hear about that. Even as we were interviewed they only wanted to talk about the nights of violence before.

My heart is still heavy and I don’t know the resolve but I will not give up the fight for justice and freedom, equality and love. We must be stronger together and seek peace, even in the midst of our storms.

Rev. Amantha L Barbee, Pastor Statesville Avenue Presbyterian Church (USA) Charlotte, NC

About the author:

LeDayne McLeese Polaski