Last night, I met an eighteen-year old white girl from Concord, N.C. She just graduated from Concord High and she's an incoming freshman at Carolina. A lot of her friends are black, and her Dad is a Lutheran pastor at a predominantly African-American church in Concord. He's also on the board of the Concord, N.C. NAACP.
So this girl has had access to lots of relatively detailed, reliable information about what happened to a twenty-two year-old black football player named Angelo Robinson on the night he was killed recently in Concord. His death precipitated five nights of rioting by the local black community. She provided me with second-hand eyewitness accounts of what happened that night via some of her friends who were in the crowd at the Waffle House when things went down.
Seems that 180 or so kids from Concord, almost all of them black, had been out clubbing that night in Kannapolis. They all turned up at the Waffle House later that night, and were greeted by an off-duty Concord, N.C. white police officer who has a history of racial harassment and who works as a Waffle House nighttime security guard.
The incident escalated immediately. The white security guard ordered the black youths who had crowded into the Waffle House to go back outside. He then ordered the entire crowd to all line up in the parking lot, under the scrutiny of several street lights, and wait to be served. At this point, Angelo Robinson began to protest. He was twenty-two years old, a local kid, and had a full football scholarship to Elon College. He had been drinking a little that night, and had previously arranged for his sister to drive him home. His close friends maintain that he was nowhere near drunk. Now, confronted by an unjust situation, he was speaking out. Angelo was "talking shit" about what was going on, and the security guard didn't take too kindly to that.
Spartanburg Herald-Journal, 8/31/93
He told Angelo that unless he shut up, he would call local police for "backup" and Angelo would be arrested. Angelo wouldn't back down, and remained as vocal as he wanted to be. Backup was called. When a police van arrived, another officer took Angelo aside and reached a compromise that would have defused the entire incident. Angelo was told that if he was to leave and go right home, he would not be arrested. When this compromise was agreed to, Angelo and his sister began walking in the direction of their car.
Then, the fateful mistake was made. The white security guard who had threatened Angelo with arrest saw him walking away from the other officers, and, fully unaware of the agreement which they had reached with him, ran at Angelo and tried to tackle him. In a flash, Angelo was defending himself and the other police officers rushed over and began spraying him with pepper mace.
Immediately, Angelo began screaming at them to stop, saying he had asthma. As the astonished crowd looked on, the officers then carried Angelo to the back of their police van, dumped him on the floor, locked the doors and immediately drove away from the Waffle House, headed directly for the Concord police station.
While enroute to the station, Angelo began throwing up in the back of the police van. The officers up front could see him and hear him doing so, but did nothing, because they assumed he was throwing up because he was drunk. He was unconscious when they arrived at the station and opened the van's doors. Despite efforts to revive him, he died right there in the custody of the Concord police.
So essentially, because of an off-duty cop's racism, ignorance, and belligerence, an innocent kid was killed.
Wilmington Star-News, 7/18/93(Click for larger size)