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Charlotte mourns after third fatal police shooting

by Katherine Fernandez - Copy Editor
Tue, Apr 23rd 2019 10:00 pm
united in grief Danquirs Franklin was fatally shot by a police officer in Charlotte, North Carolina on Monday, March 25. Protesters all over the city rallied upon the incident, citing previous instances of police killing black men under suspicious circumstances as cause for their collective outrage. A vigil honoring Franklin was held on Monday, April 15.
united in grief Danquirs Franklin was fatally shot by a police officer in Charlotte, North Carolina on Monday, March 25. Protesters all over the city rallied upon the incident, citing previous instances of police killing black men under suspicious circumstances as cause for their collective outrage. A vigil honoring Franklin was held on Monday, April 15.

In today’s political climate, it is not surprising to see a police shooting take over the headlines, but at what point will the systems that allow for these tragedies to occur be held responsible? 

The citizens of Charlotte, North Carolina are seeking answers from local law enforcement after a judge ordered the release of body cam footage that showed 27-year-old Danquirs Franklin being shot to death by police on Monday, March 25. 

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) responded to two distress calls from patrons at a local Burger King that claimed a man was armed with a gun and threatening to use it on an employee he was having a disagreement with. When police arrived, Franklin was crouched in front of the open door of the passenger seat of his vehicle in a Burger King parking lot. 

His gun was not visible in the released body cam footage but it is clearly not in his hands. Franklin is then asked numerous times by the two responding officers to “drop the gun,” a request that he ignored until he said, “I heard you the first time.”

The video of the altercation shows Franklin lowering his weapon at the command of officer Wende Kerl, who subsequently fired two shots at him. Although it is barely audible, Franklin can be heard saying “you told me to…” before falling to the ground. Officer Kerl is currently under investigation and has been placed on administrative leave until the circumstances of the shooting are reviewed. 

Organizer Kass Ottley of the advocacy group Charlotte Uprising planned a vigil to honor the life of Franklin on Monday, April 15. 

Ottley is demanding answers from CMPD Chief Kerr Putney who was afraid that the vigil would result in angry protests much like the ones that stemmed from the death of Keith Lamont Scott, another black man who was killed in a police shooting in North Carolina a few years ago. At the time of the vigil, people rallied all over the city in an effort to hold the police force accountable for Franklin’s death.

“We’re here to try to find solutions,” Ottley said of the vigil. “...to try to come up with ways that we don't have to keep coming out to this park, year after year after year, after year after year, seeing the same things happen, have the same outcome and nothing change...We’ve been out in this park far too many times.”

In recent months, two well known Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists have died and many have placed blame on police involvement. Oscar Cain was killed in an altercation with police officers in Atlanta, Georgia and Amber Evans was found dead on Monday, March 25, in Scioto River in Ohio after she was initially reported missing in January and police continuously postponed the search efforts. 

It is also worth mentioning that the son of prominent BLM activist Melissa McKinnies, Danye Jones, was found hanging from a tree in his front yard in October 2018. McKinnies insists that her son was a victim of a lynching despite claims from the St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s office that his death was a suicide. These incidents are just a few in a long line of cases where the lives of black people have been treated as an afterthought. 

If those who are speaking up on behalf of black people are being killed under dubious circumstances, it puts fear in others and discourages them from sounding off on social and political issues. With so many black citizens dying at the hands of police officers and having their concerns ignored during investigations, relations between the two have grown exponentially worse. 

The tensions resulting from these conflicts can be felt in communities everywhere, even here on campus. As a nation we must prioritize mending fences between the police force that is sworn to protect us all equally and the marginalized communities that feel they are being intentionally targeted. Although there has been talk of reworking police training, it appears not much has changed but it is obvious that we need to find a viable solution to the problem for the betterment of society.