Black lives matter. Police lives matter. All lives matter.
It’s been a week since a mistrial was ordered in the trial of Charlotte-Mecklenberg police officer Randall Kerrick in North Carolina, who was facing murder charges in the death of Jonathan Ferrell, an unarmed former college football player who had crashed his car on the side of the road, then began seeking help from a neighbor before police were called and shot him to death.
Kerrick is white. Ferrell was black. Did it really matter in this case?
After several days of deliberations, jurors could not come to a unanimous verdict on the case, forcing the judge to rule a mistrial, a decision that outraged many in the community.
The decision on any further prosecution of officer Randall Kerrick was in the hands of North Carolina State Attorney General Roy Cooper.
And today, he announced he would not be refiling charges.
Now we need to see how the community will react.
Up until now, the backlash and protests in Charlotte have been very different from what we have seen in Ferguson, New York City and Baltimore.
There have been protests but have been mostly peaceful on both sides. Only four arrests, so far.
Unlike Ferguson, New York City and Baltimore; there have been no riots, looting, burning buildings or massive blockages of roadways in Charlotte.
Yes, cops in Charlotte were decked out in riot gear patrolling the streets, but the most resistance they faced were a few rocks thrown their way and disorderly people.
Charlotte is not use to high-profile police shooting trials. As a matter of fact, it was 30 years ago since the last Charlotte police officer was placed on trial.
Minutes after the mistrial was announced, about a dozen protesters took to the street and lay there singing together; later in the night the crowds grew larger, but not violent.
I witnessed several people getting in officers’ faces screaming obscenities and yelling, “shoot me, shoot me.”
But officers just stood there in silence.
Charlotte’s protesters definitely had the same passion that we’ve seen in the previously mentioned cities, but the numbers just weren’t in the masses.
You may recall the New York aerial footage from the Eric Garner protesters; they had several highways and bridges shut down.
Or perhaps all the burning buildings, looting and gunshots from Ferguson.
Compared to the aforementioned, Charlotte was a ‘walk in the park’. The Billy Graham Association was on scene praying for both sides — the prayer warriors told me that during situations like this, it’s important to be there for people.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department released the following statement after the first night of protests:
“The goal of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department following the decision in the Randall Kerrick trial was to maintain a safe environment for our community and for those who wished to exercise their right to lawfully demonstrate. Our strategic operations plan was coordinated through the CMPD command center in conjunction with local partners. The command center was operational from 3:00 p.m. through 11:45 p.m., on August 21, 2015. CMPD officers immediately began to encounter peaceful protesters following court proceedings and worked with organizers to facilitate lawful demonstrations. Officers subsequently observed the crowd transition from peaceful protestors to a younger, more aggressive group of demonstrators as the events of the night developed. At approximately 9:00 p.m., demonstrators began throwing rocks at officers. The CMPD Civil Emergency Unit was deployed, quickly deescalated the situation and restored order.”
As a PINAC Correspondent, this case was very important for me to cover; the biggest one I’ve covered since college, where I studied media writing.
I spent several days in attendance at this trial, listening word to word of testimonials and seeing evidence exhibits. It is my hope that positive relationships between the police and the community can move forward.
But these next few hours, these next few days, will tell us if we can.