I haven't watched the graphic video of Alton Sterling's shooting this week by police in Louisiana.
Truthfully, I don't want to see it (or the one of last night's shooting of Philando Castile by police in Minnesota).
The sobbing images of Sterling's 15-year-old son, Cameron, are painful enough to witness.
At its heart, the news out of Baton Rouge, La., is about law and justice — and state and federal authorities have pledged a full investigation to determine the facts, as reported on the front page of today's New York Times:
But there are hints, too, of holy ghosts in the coverage of this story. More on that in a moment.
First, though, let's check out the Times' lede:
BATON ROUGE, La. — The Justice Department opened a civil rights investigation on Wednesday into the fatal shooting of a black man by the Baton Rouge, La., police after a searing video of the encounter, aired repeatedly on television and social media, reignited contentious issues surrounding police killings of African-Americans.
Officials from Gov. John Bel Edwards to the local police and elected officials vowed a complete and transparent investigation and appealed to the city — after a numbing series of high-profile, racially charged incidents elsewhere — to remain calm.
“I have full confidence that this matter will be investigated thoroughly, impartially and professionally,” Mr. Edwards said in announcing the federal takeover of the case. “I have very serious concerns. The video is disturbing, to say the least.”
Urging patience while the investigation takes place, the governor said: “I know that that may be tough for some, but it’s essential that we do that. I know that there are protests going on, but it’s urgent that they remain peaceful.”
Two white officers were arresting Alton B. Sterling, 37, early Tuesday after responding to a call about an armed man. The officers had Mr. Sterling pinned to the ground when at least one of them shot him.
So what's the religion angle?
That emerges in the next paragraph of the Times' story:
The video of the shooting propelled the case to national attention, like a string of recorded police shootings before it. The shooting has prompted protests here in the Louisiana capital, including a vigil with prayers and gospel music that drew hundreds of people Wednesday night to the storefront where it happened.
Other major news outlets provide clues, too, that religion is — or should be — a part of the story.
Hundreds of mourners, friends and family members of Alton Sterling, 37, gathered Wednesday in Baton Rouge for a second night of protest, prayer and remembrance.
BATON ROUGE — A vigil was held Wednesday evening in the Baton Rouge parking lot of the store where Alton Sterling was fatally shot by police less than 48 hours earlier. The event capped off a gathering that grew in size and intensity throughout the day, culminating with hundreds of peaceful protesters gathered to share poetry, song, prayer and words as community leaders called on the black community to boycott city establishments.
And from USA Today:
Thousands came together Wednesday night in prayer and peaceful protest during a candlelight vigil held at the place Alton Sterling, 37, died at the hands of two Baton Rouge police officers just one day earlier.
But here's what I'm curious about and what I'm not seeing in the news stories I've read: What are the protesters saying in their prayers? What is the actual content of those words to God?
Also, what gospel music are they playing and/or singing? Do the words of those songs offer any insight into the mindset or emotions of those gathered at the vigil?
In it coverage, CNN noted that Sterling's aunt Sandra asked for prayers:
"I'm not angry enough to hurt nobody. I'm not angry enough to go in the street. I'm not angry enough to curse the police out," she told a crowd outside the convenience store where white officers pinned Sterling, a black man, to the ground and shot him to death.
"But I'm angry and I'm mad because they took something from me that I'm never, ever gonna get back," she said. "So y'all pray for me."
Again, I'd love to know more about the role of faith in the protesters' response to the Louisiana shooting.
Is it possible — just possible — that religion is a factor in the nonviolent nature of the demonstrations so far?