Yesterday after the show I went to Princess Place to meet some of the people participating in the march to protest the shooting of Phillipe McIver. Thursday night neighborhood residents called in to complain to 911 that McIver was committing acts of indecent exposure and frightening children. Officers Howard and Whitt responded and McIver died. Later that night a few hundred people showed up in mass to toss bottles and rocks at the 50 or so police officers guarding the scene. The crowd was dispersed after someone in the crowd fired a gun several times.
A group of 100-150 showed up to march from the scene where McIver was shot to the store he had just come from, told to me by some of those who had seen him that night. Many of the young men wore bandanas to both hide their identity and perhaps signify their gang involvement. Of course no one enforced the NO MASK law. In fact I never saw a police officer after the one blocking traffic down by the fire station left. Not even in response to Pastor Cynthia Powell's call to 911. Pastor Powell was afraid that the young people would mistake the lack of enforcement of the shooting laws as something that would encourage others to pull out their weapons and shoot. She also suggested it was an advertising vehicle of the Mini Mart owner to have stepped from his business and opened fire with an AK-47 as a show of sympathy for the marchers when she thinks he was just advertising, drawing attention to his business. If law enforcement was interested in it I'm sure they could seize the security video tape belonging to the store because there are a few camera surrounding the building and would have easily captured all the shootings that took place on that property.
I met with several people, some nice, some not. Some drunk, or high, some sober church folk. One young man I met said something that made sense, when someone young dies all the future generations he/she could have issued are gone. All the scientist, doctors, ministers, police officers, gone with the dead. He also pointed out that he felt like a mistake was made in the use of force used toto subdue McIver. That seemed to be the overwhelming majority of the comments by those non-bandana wearing, God fearing members of the group said to me.
I couldn't help but notice the number of kids, I mean preteen and early teenaged kids there looking to the older young people in the crowd as examples. I honestly don't know whether it was a bad or a good thing to have them involved. I suspect they learned he wrong lesson about good and bad but a good lesson about having a community voice and speaking out against perceived injustice.
It was a welcoming sight to see several members of the clergy making their way out there. As I mentioned earlier Pastor Powell but as she pointed out her official capacity was only that of a mother who was concerned about her son's participation in the march. Other than that all those in the clergy there wished to keep their names from the public. They said that there is no definitive evidence to anything and they reserve their judgment on this situation until the video and autopsy are made available. Same sentiment was made by a member representing the NAACP.
Hopefully I will be able to follow this story with an eye on the lack of attention given by these same young African Americans to black on black crime as they have this death.
Also a couple of interesting comments I heard repeatedly by everyone I spoke with. Each of them pointed to the injustice done to Peyton Strickland as an example of what happened to Phillipe McIver. And I heard from more than a few people talk about the internet, youtube and how the video of the shooting of McIver be made available "the same way Saddam Hussein's murder" was. Interesting that everyone said "murder" not execution.
I mentioned that I never saw one single police car the entire 3 hours or so I was there. At first I thought it was a mistake but then I saw the genius of it. Going in would be dangerous. Staying on the perimeter and picking and choosing between cars exiting and coming in is a clever tactic. Intelligence forwards a message about a particular car leaving, seeing earlier them commit a crime. The arrest is made away from the crowd, away from danger and the laws are still enforced. Very clever.
I was fortunate to have met Teddie Batts, the uncle of Phillipe McIver. Fortunate because Mr. Batts was a peaceful sort of fellow seeking only answers. Frustrated, angry, hurt, but Batts seems resonable and peaceful. Willing, hopefully, to accept the truth of what took place that night and how his nephew ultimately died.
Still praying for peace and a quick release of evidence that will exonerate the two Wilmington Police Officers. Stay safe!