Where is anger over mistrial for cop who shot Walter Scott?

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south carolina michael slager bail pkg_00003113

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Story highlights

  • Issac Bailey: Community's muted response to mistrial in trial of cop who shot fleeing man in back should not be a point of pride
  • Bailey: Absence of anger can be taken for passivity, lets inequalities take hold and become nearly impossible to uproot.

Issac Bailey has been a journalist in South Carolina for two decades and was most recently the primary columnist for The Sun News in Myrtle Beach. He was a 2014 Harvard University Nieman fellow. Follow him on Twitter: @ijbailey. The views expressed are his own.

(CNN)I was disappointed that there were no protests in Charleston after the jury for Michael Slager --the white former police officer charged with killing an unarmed black motorist in North Charleston, South Carolina -- deadlocked last week. No outpourings of sentiment so forceful, so angry, that they would be deemed riots by those made to feel uncomfortable.

Issac Bailey
The quiet, the calm, has been celebrated in our region and has become a badge of honor and will likely take on mythic status in our history books.
Something like this, maybe: Nine black people are shot in a historic black church by a young white supremacist, but, hey, did you see how there was no repeat of Ferguson in our streets?
A police officer is caught on video shooting a fleeing man, Walter Scott, in the back five times and a jury deadlocks on whether to even consider it a crime, but, hey, the community was sooo peaceful a national news organization had to apologize for using an image from actual unrest on the streets of Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray because they couldn't find any here.
It is as though nothing matters more than maintaining the quiet. Being unmoved by the reality that not even actual video evidence of a man being shot in the back is enough for a slam dunk conviction is not a thing to be celebrated. It should be a scandal.
Scott's mother after mistrial: It's not over
Scott's mother after mistrial: It's not over

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Scott's mother after mistrial: It's not over 00:54
If we can hold hands and kiss each other on the cheek and pray for and with each other and vow to do better because of what Dylann Roof did, why do we fail to show a similar passion to oppose what Slager -- and the Slager jury -- did?
Fellowshipping and having black churches join white churches for crosscultural exchanges is fine. But when are we going to find the courage to get to the heart of what ails us, even if that means being openly angry with each other and the state of things?
Until police brutality becomes such an outrage -- until the unnecessary taking of life becomes such an affront to good, decent people -- there's little chance we will be able to right what should be obvious wrongs.
No, I wanted my fellow South Carolinians to be upset, to be so disturbed by what happened in that North Charleston courtroom that the entire criminal justice system wouldn't stop shaking until the decadeslong inequalities rooted within it were finally reckoned with in a systematic way, then removed.
Trying to determine if a crime is committed by a person who shoots another in the back as he runs away should not be a close call, should not be something a jury takes several days, and over a weekend, to announce -- even if the person doing the shooting wears a badge, or especially if the person doing the shooting wears a badge.
I don't want rocks being thrown at police officers in riot gear, I don't want to see CVS stores burned to the ground and police cars vandalized and pepper spray clouds and all the other anguish that has come to some cities in recent months. No one wants that. Neither do I want to see a congratulatory attitude about avoiding such unrest over injustice to become a substitute for the hard, uncomfortable work we must undertake to correct wrongs.
Mistrial declared in Michael Slager trial
Mistrial declared in Michael Slager trial

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It reminds me of the stories I've heard from older white people in South Carolina, who were shocked to learn that black people were hurt by their experiences during the Jim Crow era, when they were literally spat upon, forced into second-class citizenship and faced real dangers if they spoke publicly in favor of equality.
These white people said they didn't know because the black people who worked in their homes and took care of their kids and cleaned up their hotel rooms -- like my mother and aunts -- never let on that they were miserable, that they were seething with anger because of the way they were being treated. They often didn't let on because a black person expressing anger in the South instantly became a target.
I don't know what role that attitude plays today in how we react to horrors like a cop shooting a man in the back five times for no good reason. I don't know if we have become conditioned to ensure the comfort level of our white friends and fellow residents is prioritized over righteous demands for justice.
We should not simply move on from what we see on that video and tell ourselves fantasy stories that justice — thwarted this time -- will surely prevail during the next state trial, or in the federal one.
It is true that too much anger can blind us, lead us astray. It is also true that the absence of anger can convince us that there's no reason to be angry, which can become the reason inequalities take hold and become nearly impossible to uproot.