Charlotte: Were the protests justified?
The angry protests last week in Charlotte, N.C., may have been triggered by the death of Keith Lamont Scott, said Charles Blow in The New York Times, but make no mistake: This was a “primal scream” of rage and frustration from a black community driven “beyond the breaking point” by police violence. Scott, 43, was killed by cops last week while waiting for his son’s school bus in a Charlotte parking lot. Police say that they saw him rolling a marijuana joint and ordered him to leave his car, and that when he finally did, he emerged holding a handgun. But a police video does not show Scott making any sudden aggressive movement toward police, and in fact, he was shot as he was backing away. Scott’s shooting came only days after cops killed Terence Crutcher, 40, in Tulsa, said Chris Lebron in NYTimes.com. Not only was Crutcher unquestionably unarmed, but video shows he had his hands up when Officer Betty Shelby opened fire. Shelby has since been indicted for manslaughter, but Crutcher’s trial is already over. Like Keith Scott and hundreds of others, he was tried and put to death for being “black in America.”
Do the facts not matter at all? said David French in National Review.com. Scott’s family insisted he was carrying a book, not a gun. But a loaded gun was recovered at the scene with his DNA on it, and he was wearing an ankle holster. The officer who shot him was black. “When black cops are defending themselves from armed black men,” how can Black Lives Matter protesters blame “white supremacy and white oppression”? To the BLM movement, said Rich Lowry in NYPost.com, every police shooting of a black man is proof of their anti-police narrative, “regardless of the facts or logic.” On the streets of Charlotte, where stores were looted and 16 cops were injured, the attitude was “Riot first, ask questions later.”
The Charlotte protesters do care about the facts, said German Lopez in Vox.com. They care about the fact that while Charlotte is 35 percent black, black motorists make up nearly 50 percent of those stopped by police, and are “more than twice as likely” as white drivers to then be searched. And they care about the fact that blacks account for some 30 percent of police shooting victims in the U.S., despite making up only 12 percent of the national population. Because of facts like these, “all it takes is one shooting for distrust in the police to suddenly boil over.”
But the facts do not justify “snap judgments” about police shootings, said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. The reality is that cops kill more whites than blacks each year, despite vastly higher rates of violent crime in black communities. It’s a myth that there’s “widespread racial bias in American policing.” Tell that to the family of Terence Crutcher, said Sherrilyn Ifill in WashingtonPost.com. Moments before he was gunned down, a police officer in a helicopter overhead warned that Crutcher “looks like a bad dude,” as he held his hands up. Cops assume all black men are “bad dudes,” which is why so many lives are needlessly taken. All police departments should be required to give their cops sustained “anti-bias training,” as well as better training in conflict de-escalation. Terence Crutcher stopped on the highway because he was having car trouble. Keith Lamont Scott was a dad peacefully waiting for his kid to get off a school bus. “And yet they’re dead.” Why?
Only in America
■ Cornell University’s football coach has been forced to apologize after students complained that a photo he tweeted of two players wearing sombreros was “offensive” to Mexicans. Coach Roy Istvan awarded the big hat after each game to honor players displaying the best team spirit, but students accused Istvan of “appropriating a culture.” The coach apologized for his “cultural insensitivity.”
■ A new Los Angeles nightclub will admit only good-looking people. The club is being opened by BeautifulPeople.com, a dating site, and will station beauty judges at the door to decide whether nonmembers and guests can enter. A site official said members were tired of going to clubs “hoping to meet similarly beautiful people, only to spend the night wishing that the lighting was lower.”
Good week for:
Feeling the Holy Spirit, after Duke University scientists found that men are more likely to report believing in God after having sex. The act causes a surge of the hormone oxytocin, which promotes social bonding, altruism, and spirituality. “Oxytocin’s effects on women’s spirituality,” said a scientist, “still need to be investigated.”
The new white, after an English farmer who was fed up with rustlers stealing his sheep spray-painted his entire flock fluorescent orange. “I’m hoping that whoever is pinching them wouldn’t be able to hide them,” he explained.
Shaking things up, after researchers at Michigan State University found that a juddering, topsy-turvy roller coaster ride can help patients painlessly pass small kidney stones, especially if they sit in the back seat, where the shaking is most severe.
Bad week for:
Inside jobs, after an employee of the Royal Canadian Mint went on trial for allegedly stealing $140,000 worth of gold nuggets by hiding them in his rectum. Leston Lawrence, 35, is charged with taking 18 gold “pucks,” each a circular 7.4-ounce nugget.
Curiosity, after a visitor to Poland’s Poznan Zoo noticed that a female bear named Ewka was playing with something odd, which on closer inspection turned out to be a rusty World War II grenade. Ewka had dug up the grenade, which was gingerly taken from her.
Manhunts, after German police began searching for a drunken reveler who smashed another reveler over the head with a beer stein at an Oktoberfest celebration. They described the perpetrator as having “blond hair and pale skin, and wearing lederhosen.”
Boring but important
Last-minute budget deal
Congress looked set to narrowly avoid a government shutdown this week after reaching a budget deal that includes federal aid to address the water crisis in Flint, Mich. Lawmakers made the breakthrough just days before the Sept. 30 deadline, and shortly after Senate Democrats blocked an initial stopgap bill because it didn’t include a $220 million Flint aid package. In a bipartisan compromise, the House was expected to pass an amendment that would authorize $170 million for Flint, allowing the Senate to move ahead with the massive, emergency legislation. The 10-week funding bill will also include $1.1 billion to combat the Zika virus and $500 million for flood relief in Louisiana and other states, and will fund the government through Dec. 9.