In his Sept. 30 Point of view “The difference that mattered,” political science professor Mark Nance wrote with great empathy about the recent shooting death in Charlotte of Keith Lamont Scott. He noted that he himself was questioned by Raleigh police, under similar circumstances, on the same day on which Scott died in a confrontation with Charlotte police.
Nance suggested that the reason Scott died and he did not is that he is white and Scott was black. He cited the well-known fact that police officers in this country often approach African-American suspects with greater suspicion and mistrust than they approach white suspects. He said the officers who questioned him seemed willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and allow him to go on his way, simply because he was white.
While it would be difficult to deny that racial profiling and prejudice exist on police forces – as they do in every segment of society – I believe Nance has significantly missed the mark.
The difference that mattered most here, based on a careful review of the facts, is that Scott was wielding a firearm when confronted by officers, and Nance was not.