Current events have forced me to remind you folks that what happened to Philando Castile could have happened to me…
I wrote a e-mail to a select number of persons two months ago. It was a response to an encounter with the UNC Chapel Hill police. This has been edited to protect some people.
Date: April 20, 2017
I was in Chapel Hill with my participant (redacted) today at the Botanical Garden near the UNC campus. I was trying to get (redacted) back on the trail that they have there when he started tapping a truck.
(redacted) is Anglo, autistic and non-verbal. (redacted) also likes trucks, has been since he was 2 years old. A woman (who owned the truck) shouted at us. I didn’t make out what she was saying, and I didn’t pay any mind. I tried to get (redacted) back on his way, and back on the trail.
We head back and the woman tells us to stop because she is calling the police. She is literally accusing us of breaking and entering. Apparently there were some break in I kid you not. I believe walking away would get me arrested, so I heed her request.
The cops came (UNC police), and thankfully they were very respectful. One of them came right out and assumed it was a misunderstanding. They let us go, and the woman who falsely accused left without a apology.
It took me 33 years for something like this to happen to me. I am on spectrum myself, which really means (to me) that I am a minority within a minority who has battled low expectations from virtually every facet of society that he has encountered. I was also initially raised lower middle class, so I was a bit sheltered.
It is different how each person processes the history of American race relations. I have my own view, but in short, as Christians we need to listen, educate, and love and forgive each other. Why? Jesus commands us to love. His longest recorded prayer in the Bible is that his followers be one.
I am thankful for (redacted’s) parents for supporting me and understanding what I went through. They were awesome.
I personally do not subscribe to identity politics, automatic distrust of a certain segment of people, cultural absolutism, or anything of the sort. It never worked for me. It is a breeding ground for idolatry, which is prohibited in authentic Christianity.
For me to wave the white flag, not just because I felt I was treated differently for his skin, bank account, success or lack of it, or mental wiring would essentially mean submission to demonic forces. (I believe in angels and demons). In a good way, I am a crazy man, I think I have been put on this earth for reconciliation, and this incident won’t break me.
I want this to be a teaching tool for everyone.
And to the UNC Police Department, if you are reading this, much love to you for your professionalism during this episode.
Edward Remille Shipman