Charlotte parishioners gather for prayer service, mourn protester's death

IMAGE: CNS photo/Patricia L. Guilfoyle, Catholic Herald

By Patricia L. Guilfoyle

N.C. (CNS) — Justin Carr’s future looked bright. He had just celebrated his
26th birthday, started a new job, and was getting ready to settle down with his
high school sweetheart and start a family.

all that ended the night of Sept. 21, when a bullet shattered his skull. The
next day, he was dead.

death marked the most violent episode in nearly a week of protests in Charlotte
that erupted after another man, Keith Lamont Scott, was shot and killed by
police Sept. 20 in an apartment complex parking lot.

justice in the police shooting, protesters marched through uptown Charlotte the
evening of Sept. 21 and confronted police in riot gear. Carr was among them.

need to make a stand,” he told his mother when he called her from the
scene. He said wanted to follow in the footsteps of his grandmother, who had
marched during the civil rights era.

than an hour later, Vivian Carr learned her son was in the hospital, clinging
to life.

police have charged Rayquan Borum, 21, in Carr’s death.

enforcement officials Sept. 24 released video of the encounter between Scott
and an officer; both men were African-American. Police say Scott was fatally shot after
he made a threatening move with a gun. His family members say he had no gun,
that he was reading a book and was not being aggressive when police surrounded him.
Along with video, police released photos of a pistol and ankle holster
recovered at the scene.

Carr recounted her last memories of her son during a special prayer service
Sept. 23 at Our Lady of Consolation Catholic Church, where the Carr family has
worshipped for three generations.

Carl Del Giudice, pastor, organized the prayer service to give people a chance
to share their feelings about the protests and the tragedy that had struck
their parish family. Father Del Giudice gave Carr last rites before he died,
and is ministering to the Carr family throughout the tragedy.

know that my son died for a cause,” Vivian Carr told a standing-room-only
crowd at the church.

just want to thank everybody for coming out and thanks for all of the love and
support that everybody’s given,” she continued. “It’s very, very,
very hard for me. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. But
through everybody’s love, support and my strength in God, I’m able to carry
through this.”

two brothers praised him for standing up for people’s rights and they defended
his reputation from what they called false social media reports.

to find words through his tears, Ellis Carr said, “They took my best
friend. He was the best big brother ever.”

the prayer service, people spoke of their fear of getting stopped by police or
their sons getting racially profiled. Others begged people to get involved in
the community, uniting to turn their anger into economic and political change.

Del Giudice acknowledged people’s anger and fear, but he encouraged them to
lift each other up and bring their Catholic faith into the world,
“uplifting and elevating others to do better, and honoring and recognizing
who we are.”

Curtiss Todd similarly challenged people to “think and talk and act just
like Jesus.”

recounted his own experiences with racism while growing up in segregated
Winston-Salem, including one incident at the local country club pool, which at
one time was limited to white people only. He recounted how a little boy was
allowed to bring his dog into the pool, but when a black employee accidentally
fell into the pool that same day, “they immediately closed the pool,
drained it, scrubbed it, disinfected it, before they would let people back in
to it. What’s the lesson I learned? That many whites see blacks as less than

though, comes from the devil, who seeks to divide us, Deacon Todd said.
Instead, people should look to Jesus as their example.

a personal relationship with Jesus,” he said. “Rely on God.”

we develop that personal relationship with Jesus, we begin to think, talk and
act just like him. We have that relationship where we know what he would do in
a certain situation,” he said. “It doesn’t mean turn the other cheek,
let somebody walk all over you. It means, yes, you can protest but you have to
protest within the range that God gives you.”

pregnant girlfriend, Tanae Ray, was the last person to speak at the prayer
service. In her emotional remarks, Ray described how they had been close
friends for years before they began dating in the ninth grade. Their
relationship had been “on and off” over the years, but recently he
had asked to marry her.

the past few weeks, she said, “he was just so excited, the happiest I’ve
ever seen him.”

Carr told her that he was going to the protest, she didn’t think he was
serious. She said she regretted not stopping him from going. “I feel like
I could have prevented it.”

I had known these were his last days I would have cherished it,” she
continued through her tears.

I’m carrying his son. Everybody’s saying, ‘It’s going to be OK.’ But it’s not.
I need Justin. Ain’t nobody can take his place — no brothers, uncles, cousins.
I need him, and I don’t have him,” she wept.

his death, Carr’s heart, lungs and liver were donated to enable other people to
live, Vivian Carr said.

heart beats on,” she said. “He’s already helped save three other

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is editor of the Catholic News Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Charlotte.

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