What Black person in America is surprised that a Black Pastor was arrested after calling 911 to tell police he was assaulted by a White mob?

Donny Salyers, Dennis Salyers, Farrah Saylers, Christopher Sharp and Amanda Saylers of Edinburg, Virginia have been charged for racial attack against Leon McCray.
Mug shots of Leon McCray’s attackers (from Shenandoah County, Virginia Sheriff’s office).

“Nobody.” — Black people

Most African descendants I know try to avoid confrontations with White people that could possibly escalate to the police being called, or at least move forward with the drama, knowing their conception of innocence could be declared immaterial on the scene.

It’s not that we don’t trust cops, we just don’t trust the crazy shit that happens when we share the same space with them. Simple social interactions seem to end with gunsmoke and dead black bodies.

But you may feel the need to engage police at times, like African American Pastor Leon McCray did when a small gang of White people responded to McCray’s objection to the group dumping a refrigerator on his property by attacking him — on his property. The police arrived and arrested McCray.

And I’m not surprised. Neither would any dark-hued person I know.

Which goes back to our trust issues. We know that during many 911 calls, and regardless of who requested assistance, a police mini-court is held onsite where Black folks instantly become defendants. And in many cases, without voices since the police seem to only want the White side of the story.

And that’s exactly what happened to Pastor McCray.

[They were] threatening my life, telling me that my Black life and the Black Lives Matter stuff don’t — they don’t give a darn about that stuff in [Shenandoah County], and they can (sic) care less and we will kill you …

—Pastor Leon McCray

After the White gang attacked the Pastor and talked about killing him, he drew his legal firearm in self-defense — the gun pointed to the ground, according to McCray — and then called 911 to report the assault.

When I called 911, the person that answered the phone, instead of asking ‘how was I doing’ or ‘was I in a safe zone’ or anything like that, all they wanted to know was  I was the one with the gun. 

—Pastor Leon McCray

10 officers arrived, including the Sheriff, and they did three things.

First — confiscate the Pastor’s gun.

Second — get the gang’s side of the story

Third — arrest the Pastor for brandishing a weapon.

“We can only do one thing at a time,” was an officer’s response to McCray, when asked what the police intended to do about the gang’s assaults and threats.

And the White gang never stopped shouting racial slurs — before the police call, when the police were present, and while the police placed handcuffs on Pastor McCray.

The US Constitution has failed yet another African American who at least believed in that document’s promise, even if, hypothetically speaking, he had faith in nothing else America had told him.

But the contradiction, unsurprisingly, runs deeper.

The word of Pastor Leon McCray — an African-American community leader who has publicly stated his love for the United States — ended his 24-year military service as a decorated Air Force Master Sergeant, served as a church pastor for the past 10 years and has advocated driving social change through owning businesses while employing others, carried no currency next to a racist gang — long known by law enforcement, government officials and town residents for terrorizing communities — who trespassed on McCray’s property and invaded his personal space, while assaulting and threatening to kill him. 

Police court found the Pastor guilty, and without his testimony. The arresting officer has known McCray and his character for 20 years.

I felt … like I had been lynched, without being killed.

—Pastor Leon McCray

The preacher’s experience is what Black people think about whenever they share the same space with police officers during 911 calls.

The experience also drove Pastor McCray — who previously didn’t agree with NFL star Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protest to the National Anthem, and never supported the Black Lives Matter movement — to participate in his first Black Lives Matter protest this month.

McCray also apologized for not supporting Kaepernick earlier.

Shenandoah County Sheriff’s office announced last Friday that charges against McCray were dropped and they arrested the offending gang.

Pastor McCray shared his recent experience with racism in a sermon that’s worth hearing. I embedded it below …

Song currently stuck in my head: “the real thing” – bebel gilberto

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