Why Charlotte exploded and Tulsa prayed

Two black men were shot and killed by police officers in two different American cities this week.

The deaths of Terence Crutcher and Keith Lamont Scott cut deep into the hearts of Tulsa, Oklahoma and Charlotte, North Carolina.

But scenes from the two communities on the night of September 21 show they expressed the pain in two drastically different ways.

This was Charlotte…

A police officer stands guard near a fire on the I-85 (Interstate 85) during protests in the early hours of September 21, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The protests began last night, following the fatal shooting of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott by a police officer at an apartment complex near UNC Charlotte. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

A police officer stands guard near a fire on the I-85 (Interstate 85) during protests in the early hours of September 21, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The protests began last night, following the fatal shooting of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott by a police officer at an apartment complex near UNC Charlotte. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

A police officer tries to grab a demonstrator during protests September 21, 2016 in downtown Charlotte, NC. The North Carolina governor has declared a state of emergency in the city of Charlotte after clashes during protests in the city in response to the fatal shooting by police officers of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott at an apartment complex near UNC Charlotte. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

A police officer tries to grab a demonstrator during protests September 21, 2016 in downtown Charlotte, NC. The North Carolina governor has declared a state of emergency in the city of Charlotte after clashes during protests in the city in response to the fatal shooting by police officers of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott at an apartment complex near UNC Charlotte. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

And this was Tulsa…

Hundreds of Tulsans of all backgrounds and faiths gathered for justice in the community and around the nation. Photo Credit: Metropolitan Baptist Church

Hundreds of Tulsans of all backgrounds and faiths gathered for justice in the community and around the nation. Photo Credit: Metropolitan Baptist Church

Hundreds of Tulsans of all backgrounds and faiths gathered for justice in the community and around the nation. Photo Credit: Metropolitan Baptist Church

Hundreds of Tulsans of all backgrounds and faiths gathered for justice in the community and around the nation. Photo Credit: Metropolitan Baptist Church

Why did it look so different?

Terence Crutcher was unarmed when a Tulsa police officer shot him. His death was captured on video and released to the public. On Wednesday evening, hundreds attended a vigil in his honor, holding hands and bowing their heads.

Meanwhile, that same night, a dramatic scene played out in Charlotte after an officer shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott while attempting to serve a warrant meant for someone else. The video of this incident has not yet been made public. Protests began peacefully on Wednesday, but later devolved into a violent scene.

Blood is seen on the ground after a man was shot during a demonstration against police brutality in Charlotte, North Carolina, on September 21, 2016, following the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott the previous day. Violence broke out in Charlotte, North Carolina for a second night as police braced for a repeat of confrontations ignited by the fatal police shooting of a black man. / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Blood is seen on the ground after a man was shot during a demonstration against police brutality in Charlotte, North Carolina, on September 21, 2016, following the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott the previous day. Violence broke out in Charlotte, North Carolina for a second night as police braced for a repeat of confrontations ignited by the fatal police shooting of a black man. / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Police in riot gear shot tear gas into the crowd, which responded by throwing glass bottles and smashing windows of nearby buildings. One person was shot.

“We don’t need any more people to go to die, no more people to be arrested. We need to take a stand and do it the right way,” said Toussaint Romain, a public defender who was in the street, attempting to calm the protesters.

“People are hurting, man. People are upset. People are frustrated. People need leaders,” Romain added.

It’s not that the people of Tulsa aren’t angry — far from it. It’s how they are channeling that emotion.

Rev. Ray Owens of Metropolitan Baptist Church, which held the vigil, opened the service by saying he was offering the church as “a space for safe, yet constructive expression of our righteous rage” in light of the shooting.

Rev. Owens said he had received calls, texts and Facebook messages from friends all over city who asked: “Where can I go to cry, to say how I feel?”

At one point, he handed out cards and asked attendees to “write your lament, your outrage” so the community felt their voice was heard.

It wasn’t just members of the church who showed up. Mathias Wicks, who is black, serves as the deputy police chief at Tulsa Unified School district. He told a story about the time his daughter called him, sobbing, and said, “It just dawned on me … my daddy and big brother have targets on their back.”

Minister Josh Linton, who is white, told the crowd he understands.

“Vigils and prayers, sort of the same patterns, are just … getting tired,” he said. “Let’s make sure, yes, the white people back away … and allow people to be pissed off without us trying to insert our dialogue control over the situation.”