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Citizen: Rules of Engagement

Contrast between the UNCC shooter arrest and the police killing of Danquirs Franklin raises ugly questions, uglier answers

Contrast between the UNCC shooter arrest and the police killing of Danquirs Franklin raises ugly questions, uglier answers

Yesterday, another mass shooting happened in America. This time, in a city I call home. This time, at a University I graduated from. While it all still seems unreal, like this could never happen here, like this campus is relatively small and quiet and tragedies like Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech and an entire list of schools happen elsewhere, I know that today, this is real. 

Victims of another mass shooting lost their lives in the same place countless students and alumni have walked across, just trying to graduate, ponder their future, find their class as freshmen, or at the very least, live. A shooter has erased those dreams. A shooter has ripped apart their families.

The shooter–I will not say his name, I will not award him any victories for this cowardly act–was smiling while being taken into police custody. That part right there, the smile while being taken into custody, is the part that has many Black people in Charlotte almost forgetting about the victims of this tragedy.

It was not that long ago that another person with a gun in his pocket was murdered by police. This time it was on a street I have driven down for years. This time at a Burger King many of us frequent. This time the victim’s name was Danquirs Franklin. This time the victim was shot while complying. The victim’s name was Danquirs Franklin. While there may not be video (it’s still early in the investigation) of the UNCC shooting to help lay out the facts, there is the bodycam video of the murder of Danquirs Franklin.

Before the video was released, many said that Danquirs did not have a gun. That was not true, he did have a gun. But he was not holding the firearm when police arrived and demanded that he drop it. Both of his hands were free. The video does not show Danquirs aiming or firing a weapon at anyone. The video does not indicate that people were injured or shot. In fact, when police arrived he was calm, squatted by the store manager’s car and talking. The scene was so calm that another Burger King employee walked up to a calm, unagitated Danquirs and was told by police to move back.

The video shows they demanded Danquirs to put the gun down and then–in the act of compliance, when he grasped the gun by the barrel so it pointed toward himself–they shot him. He didn’t die right away. He lay bleeding, receiving no first aid while the shooter justified her actions to the other officers.

In the days after we were asked to stay calm. In the wake of his murder and release of the video, we were asked to reflect and consider the conversations to be had surrounding this event. For the most part, we have done what was asked of us. So now we ask, after a shooter who is not black is taken without police violence, “What commands did the campus police use that CMPD did not?”  “How not black did Danquirs have to be, in order to not get shot?”

I will never condone police violence but we, black people, will always wonder how does the white shooter not get shot by police. How do they survive those encounters?

Some say that the white shooter has mental health problems. Okay, but this is not about the shooter’s mental health. This is not about gun control or people with mental health issues owning guns. Those are issues that have some real solutions if the work is put in to find them, and if compromises can be made for the safety of all people. This is about how black people are engaged by police, when complying with police, and in the case of Danquirs, the deadly outcome of that compliance.

Make no mistake; we are all saddened by the deaths at UNCC. This commentary should not even exist. The tragedy of this “Only in America” experience of mass shooting has hit home and for some of us the wound of Danquirs, Keith Lamont Scott, Daquan Antonio, LaQuan Brown, Aaron Winchester have come cracking open again when we see how the shooter was taken with a smile. 

We can’t help but taste the bitter hypocrisy of Dylan Roof being escorted to eat at Burger King after murdering 9 black people in a church, when Danquirs Franklin was murdered in a Burger King parking lot of a Burger King for following police officers’ orders. We are trying to come to terms with how to be black and not be shot by police. We are trying negotiate this black experience without dying when stopped or engaged by police.

The question is, “What do you want us to do that will not trigger your gun trigger?” We want to know what the shooter was smiling at being marched off to jail in handcuffs. Perhaps he realized how much value his privilege holds the moment he got to shoot people and walk away. The black folks I know sure got a measure of the value of our privilege. Ours and Danquirs Franklin’s.

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  1. Richard Cutright

    May 2, 2019 at 12:44 am

    I had this same conversation this morning. The sad truth of being black in America.

  2. Bomani Asad

    May 2, 2019 at 10:13 am

    This is the question all black citizens across this nation should be asking , this is why he knelt !

  3. Linen

    May 2, 2019 at 12:48 pm

    This been going on ! Nothing new to realize. This marching and protesting got you no where. Get off your knees and stand up !

  4. Melissa

    May 2, 2019 at 10:27 pm

    As a white person, this article brings my understanding of white privilege to a whole new level. I grew up in Ohio, and white privilege was not a term I even heard until I was in my 30’s in my liberal, Charlotte church, so I’m still learning. The contrasts between the various shootings is unbelievable, and not something that was obvious to me (I’m embarrassed to say) when looking at the tragedies individually.

    • Melissa

      May 12, 2019 at 8:18 am

      For a second there I thought I had written a comment. I’m a Melissa from Ohio as well. Ever since BLM forced America to face reality, I think of how can we solve this issue. With Trump in office I noticed how my thoughts changed, and not for the better. Instead of focusing on the victims I’m praying in my mind about the shooter. Please don’t be black, or an illegal immigrant, or a Muslim. Please don’t add fuel to their hateful fire. After the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh I thought, would that shooter still be alive if he was black? The problem needs to be attacked from multiple fronts and won’t happen without us residents demanding it. Better police training techniques are out there and reducing the number of officer involved shootings. Access to guns is another issue. Working on ways of communicating between the community and police. Ignorance and distrust between both sides needs to be honestly addressed. Respect for each other when communicating. After the Scott shooting and hearing a father tell his child to never trust the police, I could only think about that childs future leading to disaster. We can begin to be the change. I’m not afraid to show my ignorance and actually welcome looking at an issue from a different perspective. The mayor of New Orleans made me understand the issue over statutes. The movie 13th removed the white washed history I was taught in school. Time to stand up and be heard. Vote for change is just one way

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