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Vice Chair of Gordon-Conwell Board Addresses Charlotte Unrest

September 26, 2016

Dr. Claude Alexander, Senior Pastor of The Park Church in Charlotte, NC, and Vice Chair of the Gordon-Conwell Board of Trustees, addressed his church yesterday morning regarding the situation in Charlotte. Below is the transcript.

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The eyes of the world have been affixed to Charlotte as the Charlotte story tragically merged with the worst of our national story. Just one day after beginning to absorb senseless shooting death of Terrence Crutcher, an unarmed African-American, we were struck with the officer-involved shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott.

While the narrative around his being shot and subsequent death is as hazy as the videos that have been released, one thing is clear. Here is another African-American male who’s been shot and killed by a police officer under less than clear circumstances. The fact that the officer involved in the shooting is black does not erase the fact that person who will go in the grave is Black. Unfortunately, implicit bias is not about the race of the person who holds it. It is about the race of the person against whom the bias is held. The national story of officer-involved shooting deaths of African-Americans, unarmed or armed, seems to be an amazingly deadly ability to shoot to kill with pinpoint accuracy while being able to exercise restraint with Dylan Roof, who killed nine unarmed people in Mother Emmanuel, and Ahmad Rahami, the Chelsea bomber. Are the New Jersey police that inaccurate at shooting that they didn’t kill Rahami or is there something else at play?

Like most of you, I was frozen by a suspension of disbelief with the rioting and looting of Tuesday and Wednesday nights that included the unimaginable shooting and killing of Justin Carr an innocent bystander in Wednesday's. The actions took the focus off of where the focus should be. The pain and anger felt by so many of us are legitimate and real. We must have the discipline to communicate and express them in legitimate ways. Having said that, when you have expressed it legitimately and you don’t see change or you feel that you do not have access to be legitimately heard, you do what you know will be heard.

I have tremendous respect, love, and appreciation for Chief Putney and the members of CMPD. I believe that he and the overwhelming majority of police officers wake up everyday with the desire to both serve and protect and return home with no loss of life. They exhibit tremendous courage in the most unbelievable of circumstances. However, we need to revisit the shoot to kill policy and continue to insist on further training in the areas of deescalation and implicit bias.

Special thanks to the many men and women who were present each night in the assurance of persons right to peaceful protest. Appreciation must be shown to the various groups who have raised significant concerns.

The days ahead will be days where we recognize loss, express grief, seek the proper redress of wrong, pursue justice, heal  wounds, and reconcile the estranged. As individuals and as a community, we must give ourselves to the fulfillment of each one of them.

There are a variety of things that people can do. We can take the time to listen to each other, affirm the common humanity of one another, and recognize the shared desires that we all have for safety, courtesy, respect, fairness, and justice.  We can commit to dedicate time, talent, and treasure to build hope and to provide positive options for people who feel that they have no stake in the current and future prosperity of our city. We can pray for God's comfort and healing to the family of Keith Lamont Scott and Justin Carr.