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North Side Notes

On Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

Posted by Kyle Edwards on

In such a short amount of time two black men - Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in St. Paul - were shot to death by white police officers. Sterling's death was recorded by multiple camera phones and made public. Castile's death was recorded by his girlfriend in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. In neither case can I see how the shooting was at all justified. God help us.

I'm a white man and I've never feared the police. I've so often casually dismissed the attitude in the African American community that sees the police not as servants to help but powerful enemies to avoid. These videos, and the fact that two of my sons are black, forces me to accept what I couldn't accept for so long. 

No, of course not all cops are guilty. I have no idea what percentage of them would have used excessive force in these two recent situations. My inclination is to say that most of them would have acted differently, that there are countless nonviolent and peaceful interactions between white policemen and black citizens everyday. 

Still, that doesn't mean that there isn't a real problem here. It doesn't mean that there isn't a root of racism. It doesn't mean that my sons should be expected to be treated with the same respect with which I'm usually treated. 

I don't know the answer for this. Human beings are beautiful creatures, created in God's image and loved eternally by him. And human beings are also broken sinners who lie, cheat, deceive, and kill. Only the gospel can change us. 

I don't know what to do, but maybe the next time a black man speaks of his fear or distrust of the police, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. 

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