Sampson Independent

Find unity in the turmoil

We don’t believe in abuse of any kind. And we detest truly racially motivated actions, much like those seen in Charlottesville, Virginia last year during an inciteful KKK rally that ended in tragedy. There is no room in a decent society for hate-filled attacks of any kind.

But not every action deemed racially motivated or abusive really is, despite media provocation, the rants of extremists bent on divisiveness and social-media charged opinions expressed from afar and by people who base their statements merely on what they think they know.

Such is the case, we believe, in an unfortunate incident that occurred at the Warsaw Waffle House recently, an incident that has, in our estimation, been blown totally out of proportion thanks to snippets of video that in no way paints a complete picture of what transpired. Much of that comes from assumptions based far too loosely on fact, social media backlash and rapid-fire attempts to incite hate.

In brief, this is what we know for certain: Warsaw police were called to the Waffle House because of a disturbance inside the restaurant. Calls to 911 indicated a fight in the dining area involving at least 20 people. Officers came to the scene, including police officer Frank Moss. Arrested was Anthony Wall, charged with disorderly conduct for actions inside the restaurant and resisting arrest in connection with his encounter with Moss.

We don’t know for certain what caused Wall’s alleged outburst in the restaurant. Some say homophobic slurs were used. If they were, they are unacceptable and yet another means of inciting hate, and we are sorry Wall was subjected to that kind of behavior. He should not have been.

Then there’s what happened outside. Wall’s sister took what has become an incendiary and viral video showing Moss grabbing Wall by the side of the neck and eventually placing him on the ground and securing his hands behind his back. The video does not show what transpired before Wall is pushed against the glass window of the restaurant.

Some say the officer was choking Wall; others believe the way he was placed on the ground was excessive force. All those assumptions are in the eyes of the beholder and those who want to spark controversy by repeatedly using adjectives that help those easily led to see a choke-hold, a viscious pounding, a slam to the ground.

What we get from the video, minus the opinions others would have us listen to, was an officer trying to restrain a young man who wasn’t doing as law enforcement instructed him. The officer doesn’t have his hand around his throat; it’s on the side of his neck in what looks like a hold.

Yes, the thin young man is placed on the ground by the much larger officer, but we see no WWW wrestling move either. It looks forceful because of the difference in size and it looks terrifying because none of us want to be in that position.

There is more to the story we are sure; and there are two sides to that story. That’s why an investigation is being conducted. We should all wait to weigh in until the probe is complete and the full picture is known.

Calling for the resignation of Moss and Warsaw’s mayor, who is defending his officers actions, is uncalled for based on what we know so far. Would you want a snippet of video, perhaps taken out of context, to become the sole judge and jury of your job or your future?

It is doubtful you would.

What happened at the Warsaw Waffle House was unfortunate, but what has happened since is becoming the real tragedy.

The small Duplin County town is a place where people of all races have, historically, gotten along. They work side-by-side, kid one another, agree to disagree on certain subjects and go about their business day in and day out. Most are hard-working and law-abiding; many are faith-based. A large percentage care about their community. Law enforcement, both those who are black and those who are white, haven’t been considered the enemy.

That should not change because of one incident or because people who truly do not know what they are even ranting about go on the defensive, seeking to pit friends against friends simply because of the color of their skin.

It seems it is far easier to call for division than to seek ways to bring unity out of turmoil.

We pray the good people of Warsaw, Duplin County and the great state of North Carolina don’t allow that to happen. There is far more to unite us than to divide us, but we must want it and work toward it, refusing to allow others to sway our thoughts and actions.

Not every action deemed racially motivated or abusive really is