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Do you think that the North Charleston Police Department has taken appropriate steps towards reform a year after the Walter Scott shooting?
Looking Back & Moving Forward in 2016
12/29/2015 6:01:54 PM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch 

Good Morning Charleston! Christmas is past and gone and soon a new year will roll in.

Sure hope you guys had a wonderful holiday. While the Midwest and England are experiencing tornadoes and flooding, we are enjoying summer like weather. Tornadoes can be very sudden and violent. When you think you are having it bad, just look at the deaths and devastations around you.

Locally, looking back on the murder of Walter Scott by a North Charleston Police Officer and the murders of the Emanuel 9 by an avowed racist, both top my list as the worst occurrences in Charleston in recent history. They also opened the door for changes that are sure to take place in 2016. Topping the list nationally are the mass murders occurring at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado Springs, The Military Center in Chattanooga and the San Bernadino murders that have occurred as a result of lax gun laws.

As we prepare for the iconic ball dropping in Times Square, Watch Night Services and the Emancipation New Year’s Day Parade, we have a long way to go in achieving diversity and healing the nation in 2016.

In the upcoming Presidential Election, I don’t know that we can do much about Trump’s controversial rantings that seem to divide voters. Money has a way of turning truth into fiction and fiction into truth. It really doesn’t matter what Trump says, it’s all about fame and fortune. True or false, some folks will still support him in spite of his rhetoric. With Isis at our front door, the last thing America needs is a President that rants, raves and divides. Beyond criticisms, threats and tirades, what is Trump’s platform?

Two important trials will probably take place in the coming year, Police Officer Michael Slager in Walter Scott’s murder and Dylann Roof in the Emanuel 9 murders. The eyes of the nation will be upon Charleston and how these two cases are resolved. These cases will set the tone for how other cases will be adjudicated. The resolution of these unjustified and often controversial murders is becoming all too frequent and costly in terms of trials and pay outs to victims’ families. Walter Scott’s family was awarded $6.5 million.

The South Carolina Insurance Reserve Fund will pay $1 million and the balance $5.5 million by North Charleston taxpayers. Why should taxpayers have to foot the bill for the pay out, the trial and if Slager goes to prison, the cost for imprisonment. Unfair comes to mind. The paradox of Scott’s case is Scott owed child support and the settlement will pay off the child support and take care of his children. So, in the end Scott’s children win and the officer loses. I am sure Slager has replayed his actions over and over again and if he had to do it over, would have handled the situation differently. Now, the future Officer Slager’s children is in jeopardy because of his action on that fateful morning.

Dylan Roof’s case points out the need for more diversity training and plain ole generational ‘fessing up by White folk. Ya’ can’t discuss one thing over the dinner table and then do another. Sometimes you just have to own it. White folk don’t like to be called racist.

They tend to back pedal when they hear the word “racist”. Yet, every chance they get, they suck the lifeline out of Black folk whether it’s through predatory lending, higher interest rates, unfair and discriminatory home mortgages, bank and auto loans. It is now and has always been the case. I am not accusing every white person of being racist or every bank of overcharging but far too long blacks have been victimized or redlined for higher everything by design. If blacks have to pay more for services, the chances are they never will become rich. If the rich overcharges the poor for services, the wealthier they become.

The best way to keep anyone down is to strip them of wealth. An example of how the system is skewed, simply take a look at how the middle class numbers have dropped in recent years. You are either rich or poor. Why, because the expectation is there for the middle class to rise to the top. And, there is only room at the top for 1% of the wealthiest persons in America. Greed and racism are sending this country downward.

I really don’t have a clue of Roof’s background but somewhere along the line he learned how to hate. Hate is a learned behavior. Roof’s hatred festered and brought him face to face with love and acceptance at Emanuel. The people at prayer meeting caught him of guard. They blew his mind. They were nothing like the preconceived people he had learned to hate but he still killed them.

Wake up White America, do something about the wide gap between the haves and haves not. How much money is enough? How much hate is enough? Is it too much to sit down at the reckoning table? And what about sharing the wealth?

When I look back and see the destructive path of hate and what hate can do, I resolve to walk the path of love even if it means being broke. I am looking back at what was while moving forward in 2016 to greater possibilities. The past cannot be changed but the future can.

Are y’all listening? Happy New Year!!


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