Sherita Dixon-Cole was pulled over by police early Sunday morning. We know that for a fact. But then the facts get shoved to the side, at least for a little while. Dixon-Cole claims that she was sexually assaulted by Officer Daniel Hubbard during that stop. She hired an attorney. Noted activist Shaun King spoke out in her defense, even going so far to inform all of his social media followers that the woman was kidnapped and raped by Hubbard.
Then the body camera footage was released.
All two hours of it.
The footage showed that the traffic stop was just about as common as a traffic stop can be. Dixon-Cole was given a ticket and arrested for suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Throughout the entire ordeal Dixon-Cole and the officers were calm and respectful to one another. In the realest possible sense, the sexual assault accusation came from out of nowhere.
Lee Merritt, Dixon-Cole’s attorney, used his Facebook account to apologize to Officer Hubbard and his family, saying, “I take full responsibility for amplifying these claims to the point of national concern.” This is commendable and shows a lot of character and humility on Merritt’s part.
The same can’t be said for Shaun King. He released a statement expressing his bewilderment that Dixon-Cole could do such a thing while reminding us that such tings do happen all of the time. However, he never apologized to Officer Hubbard.
There are many lessons to be learned from this. The first one is that true justice is total justice. Those who truly care about justice will still pursue it even when doing so does nothing to help their cause. They will wait for the facts, even when waiting is hard.
Apparently, this is asking to much of our perpetually outraged culture that talks a big game about justice but really seems to prefer groupthink and vengeance. You see this when an officer is caught on camera shooting a black man in the back and people explain the actions away by informing us of what a tough job that officer has. And you see it when a woman falsely accuses a good officer of a terrible crime and those who helped to spread her lies deflect attention from their own lack of judgment by writing about other injustices.
An injustice was done that Sunday morning when Sherita Dixon-Cole was arrested. It just wasn't done to Dixon-Cole. It was done by her. She did great harm to women who actually have been sexually assaulted by those in power. Now, even more than before, their stories will be met with skepticism. She also did harm to those who have been victims of injustice because of their ethnicity. Those on the sidelines are now more likely to view the next legitimate injustice against a black person as just another made up story. Finally, she did great harm to Officer Hubbard's reputation. Accusations like this make headlines. The correction when the accusation is proven to be false is usually printed on the back page.
Shaun King defended his error by stating, “I lead and live with my heart on my sleeve. I don’t know any other way.”
Pursue the truth.
Even when it pierces the heart that you wear on your sleeve.
Newspaper trailblazer Joseph Pulitzer is famous for his three word motto that he kept on the wall of his newsroom.
“Accuracy. Accuracy. Accuracy.”
Times have changed and so have those three words. In our era of outrage and speed at the expense of truth, we have a different motto hanging on the digital walls of our individual social media newsrooms.
“Feelings. Likes. Clicks.”
People are paying dearly for that motto.
People like Officer Daniel Hubbard, his family, and future victims of actual injustice.