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EDITORIAL: No-bull Durham shows leadership in difficult situation

August 8, 2015 | Virginia News

When a white police officer shot and killed a young black man in Richmond a few days ago, things could have gone from bad to catastrophic very quickly. We’ve had plenty of experience lately of young black people dying in police shootings, some under debatable circumstances.

This time, tensions didn’t burst into flame — for three reasons.

For one, the young man who died, Keshawn Hargrove, was armed, and shot first. Even the most ardent civil libertarians recognize that law-enforcement officers have every right to use deadly force in a situation like that. As King Salim Khalfani, a former leader of the Richmond NAACP, put it: “I understand the pain, man, but if what we heard is true, you can’t run down the street firing at police and ducking for cover. Not a smart thing to do.”

Second: The young man’s mother acted like a saint. In a moment of unbearable grief she apologized for her son’s behavior, urged an angry crowd to be patient, extended her thanks to the officers who tried to give Hargrove first aid, and asked only for a fair inquiry into his death.

Last — but far from least: Police Chief Alfred Durham, who has been in office only six months, handled the situation with authority, deftness, and tact far out of proportion to his short tenure.

Following the first rule of crisis management, Durham fully disclosed details of how the episode unfolded. ...

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