*Just when we think it can’t get any worse than Jim Crow 2.0, which is what people are calling the Georgia state legislature’s efforts to erase the last 50 years of progress in voting rights, some White people in North Carolina are trying to reverse time to the days when angry lynch mobs ruled the day.
Think Black Wall Street in Greenwood, Oklahoma in 1900 or Rosewood, Florida in 1923 or the lynch mob that forcibly removed Emmett Till from his uncle’s house in Mississippi in 1955 after a White woman accused Till of flirting with her. The present-day version of that happened in North Carolina in 2020, just last year.
But the Black woman it happened to is standing her ground against the group of armed White people who tried to intimidate her into an illegal search of her home. The ring leader was a law enforcement officer who showed up in his cop uniform with his service weapon displayed on his hip, but he was off duty and he was out of his jurisdiction. This was a clear case of attempted intimidation and a misuse of his legal authority. Now this Black woman and her son have filed a civil lawsuit against the out-of-bounds cop and the angry search mob he had in tow.
That’s why it’s important to know your rights in your home. Know your rights while driving your car. Know your rights while walking along the sidewalk. If you don’t know your rights – or you don’t have the courage to assert them in the face of authority – somebody will try to infringe upon your rights or even take them away.
Such is the case with Monica Shepard in Rocky Point, N.C. That’s about a half-hour drive from Wilmington, N.C. where NBA legend Michael Jordan grew up. Shepard was at home in bed on a Sunday night when it happened. Her teenage son, Dameon, a high school senior, answered a knock at their door.
It was Jordan Kita, a deputy sheriff and jailer in New Hanover County. Kita said he was searching for a missing girl who was last seen with a Black teenage boy believed to live at the Shepard’s address. The Shepards live in Pender County – not New Hanover. So Kita was a bully cop wielding authority he didn’t have.
His neighbor, Austin Wood, was there too. He’s not in law enforcement. He was just some dude carrying an AR-15 assault rifle standing behind Kita. Kita and Wood had a gang of at least a dozen other people with them. Shepard’s neighbors said some the dirty dozen gang had weapons. It was a scene reminiscent of a 1920’s lynch mob when racist White people showed up looking for the Black person accused of a crime so they can act as judge, jury and executioner.
Apparently a teenage relative of Kita, the bully cop, had gone missing. Relatives, neighbors and friends had searched for her. Through the grapevine the family was told the girl (who is bi-racial) was last seen with a Black boy who lived in the neighborhood where Monica Shepard and her son live. The family also was given the teenager’s name and his address.
Kita, in his cop uniform and service weapon, accused Shepard’s son of being the Black teen they were looking for and tried to force his way into their home to question Dameon and to search for the missing girl. Dameon told Kita they were at the wrong address and he was not the person they sought.
That’s when Dameon’s mom woke up after hearing raised voices in her home. She came downstairs in her pajamas to find bully cop Kita. When she confirmed they had it wrong and tried to close the door Shepard and her son claim Kita put his foot over the threshold and would not allow them to close the door.
Why would a bully cop travel out of his jurisdiction in uniform with his service weapon and try to force his way into the home of a Black family with no search warrant? White privilege. Kita said he forgot he had on his cop uniform. And his neighbor, Austin Wood, said he didn’t mean to intimidate the Shepards by standing at their door with the AR-15. Likely stories.
I understand a girl was missing, and her family was desperate to find her. But trying to barge into somebody’s home at night without a search warrant in your cop uniform out of your jurisdiction with a gang of armed White people is wrong on so many levels. When you’re the only Black person in a sea of White folks you can’t let down your guard at work, at school, or in your neighborhood. Because when something goes wrong they’re going to blame the Black people.
When the angry gang realized they had the wrong house they left the scene. Ms. Shepard was able to close the door. And that’s when she called the real cops in the right jurisdiction. But the treatment Shepard received didn’t get any better. Click on the video above to get more details about lynch mob 2.0 and find out how it ends.
Steffanie Rivers is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex. Email her at [email protected] with your comments, questions and speaking inquiries. Follow her @TCBStef on Twitter and Instagram.