OWN
02/17/2017 11:03 am ET

Keith Lamont Scott's Brother-in-Law Addresses the Role of Racism in Police-Related Shootings

"We are a racist society. We just are, and we don't talk about it."

When television producer Ray Dotch covered the Ferguson protests and Baltimore riots, his intention was to share the reality of these events with the rest of the world. He was teargassed and pepper-sprayed while doing his job, but, still, Dotch remained committed to getting these important stories out there.

Then, Dotch became part of the story himself: In 2015, Keith Lamont Scott, Dotch’s brother-in-law, was fatally shot in the back and abdomen by a police officer in Charlotte, North Carolina. Dotch became the spokesperson for his family, but still has more to say a year-and-a-half later. He opened up about his perspective on the tragedy during a panel discussion about policing and autism, hosted by Holly and Rodney Peete.

“I found myself angry at ... the questions my colleagues were throwing at me about, you know, who he was and trying to humanize him,” Dotch says of his late brother-in-law. “It shouldn’t have been necessary for us to do that. It should just be that African-American men deserve the same justice as everyone else.”

Scott, Dotch says, did not get justice. After a two-month investigation into the incident, the officer who shot Scott was not charged. In terms of what contributes to the police shootings of black men, Dotch believes there’s one major underlying issue that we can’t afford to brush aside.

It should just be that African-American men deserve the same justice as everyone else.

“We are a racist society,” Dotch says firmly. “We just are, and we don’t talk about it. We won’t say it out loud, we won’t call it what it is ― even in reporting on these various stories. You’re supposed to tip-toe around it.

“Until we address the underlying problem, it doesn’t go away,” he continues. “I will still find myself being pepper-sprayed on the street because I was covering a story, because they assume me to be somebody because I’m black. At some point, we have to proactively address it, tackle it and do something about it.”

Dotch also believes that black men’s interactions with police could change if both sides could acknowledge each other’s fear.

“What I think would be really, really helpful from the police’s perspective is to at least acknowledge that, ‘I understand why you would be afraid, because all of this media has painted us in a way ― or, has shown all of these incidents ― that would make anybody who sees it afraid,’” Dotch says. “If we both walk into the scenario and recognize that both sides have a sense of fear, then we’re able to understand and operate in those moments a lot differently.”

For more from this solutions-oriented panel discussion, head to OWN’s YouTube channel.

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