Kerr Putney, who 15 months ago was sworn in as Charlotte’s second black police chief, has spoken openly of his own lingering, lifelong distrust of the police. He has invoked the “racist bigoted history” in U.S. policing. He has publicly stated that he believes his father’s death was an unacknowledged murder, one poorly investigated by officials in his hometown, Roanoke Rapids, N.C., because the police there “didn’t care about the value of a black life,”reports the New York Times. Little in his life has led naturally to this moment when he has become the prime target of protesters, who gathered in a church yesterday to demand his resignation and to claim that he was protecting his officers at the expense of the family seeking justice for the death of Keith Lamont Scott, the black man killed by an officer last Tuesday.
Putney got withering nationwide criticism for his refusal to release videos of the shooting, only to relent after days of protest. The Times says his “predicament demonstrates the immense challenges facing even the most progressive-minded police chiefs trying to keep the trust of their officers and also of minority communities in an age of growing rage over police shootings of black men.” “This past week has completely dissolved whatever trust we were attempting to build between [the chief, the police department, and] the community, and so for that reason he needs to resign,” said Bree Newsome, who spoke at the church, “Because he is not in a position at all to build trust or to lead.”