GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. – Speaking up about race relations in the United States can take some courage right now. Some people worry if they say something they be criticized for take a side.
But sympathizing with the Black Lives Matter movement doesn’t mean someone is anti-law enforcement. And, if you support police it doesn’t mean you believe black lives matter less. The two are not mutually exclusive.
That’s the point Melvin Carter III wrote about in Pioneer Press op-ed. Carter is black and his father served in law enforcement for 28 years.
“You know, I grew up both 100 percent African American and again 100 percent the son of an officer whose life, safety, wellbeing I prayed for every day,” said Carter.
“Dad joined the police department in 1975. He was part of a group of African American officers who came on after a judge issued a court order requiring the City of St. Paul to integrate our police department,” described Carter.
Carter considered his father a superhero in the police uniform. But, he also speaks candidly about his interactions with officers who were not his dad.
“On one hand I've experienced those stops and have been pulled over more times than I can remember for the types of things that not all my friends were getting pulled over for. I’ve been pulled over for riding a bike at dusk without a headlight and had a friend's car searched by an officer who wanted to know why we were in a nice car,” said Carter.
But, those police interactions are only half of his reality.
“I also feel a deep and crushing sadness from the violence against officers this past week in Dallas and here at home as son of St. Paul officer who worried every day for my dad's safety. I can relate to their fear and pain,” said Carter. “The summer after my freshman year in high school my sisters and I watched as a citywide manhunt unfolded for a shooter who had killed two St. Paul officers. Dad was on duty that day. We sat quiet and scared in front of the television desperately wishing he would call and tell us he was okay.”
On the future of relations between police and the community, Carter believes change can happen.
“I also agree the moral arc of the universe is long but it bends towards justice.”