The Norman Transcript

Columns

November 17, 2013

We just don’t know

NORMAN — Let’s practice saying the sentence, “We don’t know.”

We will need to say it an awful lot in the coming months, because we may have our own Trayvon Martin case brewing.

The shooting death of a young woman, Renisha McBride, has sides lining up. And after the shooter was charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and felony firearm on Friday, the rumbling grew louder.

But remember. We don’t know. Say it. We don’t know anything except a woman is dead and a man allegedly shot her. I write “allegedly” — even though no one apparently disputes that — because that is journalistic protocol for how you speak before a case is decided.

We would be wise to use protocol ourselves.

Because you already may have formed an opinion when you heard that a 54-year-old white man from Dearborn Heights, Mich., shot a 19-year-old black woman from Detroit when she allegedly banged on his front door in the wee hours of the morning.

But we don’t know.

You may feel certain there is no justification for such violence; the woman was just looking for help.

But we don’t know.

You may believe the woman said or did something threatening, because nobody just shoots someone for being on the porch, right?

But we don’t know.

You may argue that people get nervous with guns in their hands, and the man, Theodore Wafer, told police his 12-gauge shotgun went off by accident.

But we don’t know.

You may say, as family members of McBride have told the media, that this was about racial profiling.

But we don’t know.

You may say the way Wafer shot McBride will prove his intentions, but the family first claimed she was shot in the back of the head and the autopsy by the medical examiner’s office revealed she was shot in the face.

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