A pastor in Charlotte said the church engaging the community can help dispel the violence that has erupted in the city over the past few days.
In an article, Dimas Salaberrios, pastor at Infinity Bible Church, described how the prayers of the church at the site of the protest cooled down the anger of the protesters, who at the time were forming a human blockade on the street to keep vehicles from passing.
Salaberrios said 10 men began walking toward the middle of the street and blocked the traffic. A confused police officer turned to him and said he couldn’t understand what they were doing.
Salaberrios, out of concern for the men who could possibly be hit by cars, decided to speak to the crowd.
"The only one who never gets it wrong, and is the Judge of judges, is God. Looting and going to jail is not the way,” he said. “We want justice, but we also must conduct ourselves respectfully. Trust me, no one gets away with murder, even if they win a case. Life will never be the same for them.”
He also led them in prayer. In a short while, those who were blocking the traffic quietly abandoned their positions, causing the crowd to erupt in an applause.
"It seemed that our words had penetrated those blocking traffic as they willingly dispersed without further provocation,” Salaberrios wrote.
He said the unrest that Saturday night was kept in check because the church in Charlotte engaged the protesters.
“It was the Church in Charlotte which dominated the night and made the peace that was so very needed,” Salaberrios said.
The violent protests in Charlotte unfolded because of the fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, a black man who was killed by white police officers who approached his vehicle because he allegedly held up a gun. When the officers asked him to step out, he reportedly did so with the gun in his hand and refused to cooperate.
Authorities said Scott’s gun, recovered at the scene, was loaded.
The protests became even more heated when Charlotte police, under public pressure, showed Saturday the videos recorded from an officer’s body cam.
The video shows an officer with a gun pointed at Scott, who stepped out of his vehicle. Scott then started walking backward. An officer who could not be seen in the video shot him four times.
The video fanned the flame of rage over the killing and made the protests more violent.
According to a report, Scott’s wife Rakeyia filed a domestic violence protective order against him last year because he threatened to kill her with a gun. However, after two weeks, she dropped the complaint and said her husband was no longer a threat.
An accident last November left Scott in a coma. When he recovered, he appeared to have been a changed man. His wife said she never saw him with the gun again.
“At the end of the day, regardless of what salacious facts come out about his past, none of that affects whether or not he deserved to be shot," Justin Bamberg, an attorney for Scott's family, said. "We know and we can see with our own eyes what happened in the moments that matter. The past has to be put in a box."