The expected riots in Charleston as we have seen in Cleveland, Ferguson, Baltimore, and other cities across the United States never materialized here in Charleston. That’s right, even with everything that had happened, the Holy City never rioted. This is one of the many reasons I love this town. We have been through a lot here, you had the Walter Scott shooting, followed shortly after by the Mother Emmanuel shooting and now a mistrial of a white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man. I remember the Mother Emmanuel shooting vividly. There is an interesting story about JEB Bush’s campaign that night, but that is for another day. After the Church Shooting, we didn’t riot, we came together. I stood with my wife and son, hand in hand, with 10,000 other Charlestonians who held hands across the Ravenel Bridge.
So tonight, I went downtown and looked for riots, or at least some people I could talk to. There were no riots. I really did look for them. I went to Marion Square, Lockwood (the Police Station), and the Courthouse, I saw no riots or protests. So I looked for people to chat with. I walked up King Street and found a bar called A.C.’s Bar & Grill. I went in, ordered a drink and started chatting the place up. While almost everyone was confused by the mistrial, some because they had never heard the word before, but others who saw the video as well, I only found one who even came close to being a protestor.
I found Ramon, he was actually sitting outside the courthouse waiting for the verdict most of the day, he then retreated to A.C.’s to drown his sorrows. Ramon was a Veteran, he was a Cav Scout who deployed to Iraq in 2010. I asked him why he thought there haven’t been riots in Charleston. His response shocked me, he said that “Slavery started in Charleston” which I was kind of taken aback by. He then said that “African Americans here have been trained to never question the master” which surprised me even more. I asked him if he thought the rain had anything to do with it, he said no. I think it had a lot to do with the rain.
Ramon then made a comment that I actually agree with. He said that “Police should be held to a higher standard, why is it that the Rules of Engagement I had to follow in Iraq are stricter than what the police have to follow.” I do agree with that statement, which is also how I view all the stories I read about involving police shootings. Would I have been given a Court Martial if I did that in Iraq. I view it through this lens because I have been thoroughly briefed on ROE, and given a set of circumstances of two things must be true, either the ROE is too strict, or police are doing things they shouldn’t.
At the end of the day, a cold rain falls on Charleston, Chief Mullen and the Charleston Police Department had a usual night, and my town didn’t burn. My opinion as to why, it rained, it was a mistrial with a new trial on the horizon, and those who have had to wait for justice before in this town are used to waiting perhaps decades, for justice to prevail.