In Charlotte, Recent Shooting Roils Police-Community Relations This week, police in Charlotte, N.C., shot and killed a black man. The shooting has spurred days of protests. Michel Martin speaks with Rev. William Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP.


In Charlotte, Recent Shooting Roils Police-Community Relations

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We want to talk more about this with Reverend William Barber the II. He's president of the North Carolina NAACP. He's led some of the largest civil rights gatherings of the modern era, the so-called Moral Mondays movement. He's with us now on the line from Wilson, N.C. Welcome back to the program, Reverend Barber. Thanks for joining us.

WILLIAM BARBER II: Thank you so much, sister Martin. Glad to be on.

MARTIN: How would you describe the mood there among your congregants and also your constituents? The NAACP is a membership organization. You have members all over the state. How would you describe the mood there right now?

BARBER: Well, we're the largest state conference in the South, second-largest in the country. And I've been on the ground three times in Charlotte. They are black. They are white. They're young. They're old. They're gay. They're straight. So even though the mantra is black lives matter, it is - we have people of all different races, creeds, colors, sexuality holding up that mantra and demanding justice.

Now, I will say that people are angry. And I want to differentiate that from being mad. People are angry, but 99.999 percent of them have chosen to engage in non-violent justice-seeking protest. There is a sense of deep hurt, what we call daily ongoing traumatic stress syndrome. It seems as though we don't get a day. One minute it's Tulsa, you see someone shot, the next day it's Charlotte. There is a deep feeling of distrust. People are saying we must have in the NAACP a federal investigation. There's a lot of complexity, pain and anger and frustration in the midst of all of this.

MARTIN: How would you want people to think about what's happening in Charlotte in these past few days, and what would you like people to be thinking about in the days ahead?

BARBER: First of all, this is not a narrative of who's against the cops. The cry - the legitimate discontent around both racialized police brutality or just police brutality in general because, as you see, black Americans do not care if it's a black person that shoots another black person if they believe that shooting was unjustified in the shooting of someone unarmed.

MARTIN: But let me stop you right there.


MARTIN: I do have to mention because this is something that people may or may not know, it has been reported that the officer involved in the shooting in Charlotte was African-American. Does that change anything for you?

BARBER: That's the moral perspective of black people. You know, black people stood up against blacks in slavery who wanted to stay in slavery. Dr. King had to fight black ministers who stood against the civil rights movement. So there's a certain moral standard that says wrong is wrong and that still can be both a culture of racism that is feeding police brutality and then there could be a culture of exclusivism that feeds police brutality. The fact of the matter is a gun and a badge and a right to operate in the name of - my name, in the name of the state - is too much power for a bigot or a trigger-happy person. It does not matter.

MARTIN: Can I ask you before I let you go, how are you feeling?

BARBER: I have three sons. I've had to have the talk. I have three sons who are tall and large. You know, I worry about them. I worry about my daughters. My sons - I've taught them to be strong, to stand up for what's right, to speak the truth. But on the other hand, I have to teach them if somebody - a cop - stops you - and even if they're wrong, you know, don't be so strong. It's counterintuitive - don't speak your mind, just get home - and it makes no sense.

MARTIN: That was the Reverend William Barber the II. He's president of the North Carolina NAACP. We reached him on the line in Wilson, N.C. Reverend Barber, thanks so much for speaking with us once again.

BARBER: Thank you so much. God bless you.

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