Last week I overheard a few parents at Campus Hill Community Center talking about the poor education their children are receiving at Lowe’s Grove Middle School. They just did not understand how systematically the same old same old keeps going on and their children are the ones to suffer. I know why.
I got pulled over by a police officer on Barbee Road In November en route to picking up my daughter from school. I was speeding. When I was pulled over I didn’t fear for my life. I didn’t make any abrupt movements and, since I am not the Flash, I didn’t flee the scene.
I hated getting the ticket, but I did break the law.
I think about the incidents across the nation where unarmed black men have had violent altercations with police officers. My heart goes out to the families where the force used was unjust. The Walter Scott shooting in North Charleston was unjust. I believe that police officers should use force to stop an assailant but only as a last resort and when their life or the lives of an innocent bystander are in danger. Police brutality is inexcusable but rare. It happens when officers make mistakes, and when that happens they should be held accountable.
What if I had a weapon in my glove box while retrieving my registration and both pulled and aimed it at the officer? And what if during the scuffle I was shot and killed by the officer? The officer that pulled me over for speeding was white.
I hope that this would not happen in Durham, but could the recent incidents in Baltimore and elsewhere have happened here, too?
In our knee jerk, reactionary society I would have been front page fodder – a scapegoat – for the “Black Lives Matter” movement. In Baltimore City Schools where over 70 percent of the students are not proficient in reading even after receiving additional funds from the Feds, would our Durham Public School students who, although better statistically than their Baltimore counterparts, have rioted in downtown Durham, on the campuses of NCCU and Duke, at Southpoint mall or on the corner of Liberty and Driver, destroying neighborhoods, shops and homes? The recipe in Durham is ripe for this to happen, but will we allow it to happen?
I was moved by the mother in Baltimore who saw her son rioting by the CVS and had the gumption to go yank and beat his butt and also by the father who saw and retrieved his child and said that he should be home doing his homework. Parents of Durham – in my hypothetical example, would you have done the same or seen my death as just cause to destroy our city? Mayor Bell, would you have called the National Guard or law enforcement under Chief Lopez to do their jobs and protect the public property of our city? DPS School Board Vice Chair Forte-Brown, will our students continue to receive a subpar education and a potential life of despair as fuel to feed the fire that the riot would bring?
In Spike Lee’s 1989 hit, “Do the Right Thing,” the day started off like any other but ended in tragedy. There was tension in the city before the spark was lit.
Let’s be prepared but prayerful for our city. All lives matter, not just black ones. By the way Revs. Barber and Sharpton, there was a police shooting in Wake Forest. Where were you? My bad – only black lives matter.
Terry McCann is a Durham Public Schools mathematics teacher and member of the Black Republican Committee of the Durham County Republican Party.