I stand with Mike Brown.

 

On Saturday afternoon, an unarmed African-American man, Mike Brown, was shot and killed by police officers in Ferguson, Missouri.

I have written here before about lament being our first response to shooting tragedies, and I grieve for the family and friends of Mike Brown.

Given the facts as we currently know them:

1) Mike Brown was unarmed

2) Mike Brown was the sole target of the police action

there was no reason for him to be shoot multiple times, or to be killed.  This is police brutality, plain and simple. Many of us here at Englewood have seen police brutality here in our urban neighborhood, as well as the sorts of dehumanizing language directed at racial or criminal groups that fosters brutality.

I feel the rage of the protestors who have taken to the streets in Ferguson. Looting and destruction of property is not justified, of course, but the crowds in the street are a pointed reminder that police brutality has gone way too far.  Wikipedia documents seventeen victims killed by police in the US in August 2014 alone! (According to their count, there have been over 130 police killings here in 2014, and from a survey of their sources, most of them apparently seem to be men of racial or ethnic minorities).  Can we please say that police violence has reached an epidemic state?

Enough. Is. Enough.

Where are our police learning this brutality? 

Why are so many lives being taken?

Are officers being trained to shoot to kill when threatened, instead of to impede?

It’s bad enough that we imprison approximately 1 in 3 African-American men, but police killings with no trial or margin for error, are out of control and must be stopped!

Mike Brown’s story stands as a powerful witness that police violence is out of control.  I grieve that his life was lost; it should not have been, but let us make sure that his life was not lost in vain.  Churches — and not just Black churches, but ALL churches — need to stand up with Mike Brown, with his family and nonviolently protest the madness of police violence. It was Ferguson, Missouri this time, but it could be your neighborhood or mine tomorrow, and unless something changes, it will be our neighborhoods eventually. This is a justice issue.

As Willie Jennings has argued, the Church has been complicit in cultivating the racialized experience as we know it in Western Culture today. We also have been complicit in a culture that revels in violence.  These two realities of race and violence are embodied in the shooting of Mike Brown, and we, as Christians, are not innocent.

Police brutality must stop.

I stand with Mike Brown.

Do you?

There are short term things that must be done — legally, politically — to quell police brutality, but for lasting healing, churches must deal with our messy sins of injustice related to race and violence.  Churches have made this mess, and now it’s time for us to repent, to turn in the opposite direction and to seek healing and peace, instead of fragmentation and violence.

  • glynn_young

    Chris, we’re living through this in St. Louis right now. And it seems almost like a bipolar world for us – normal life continues, we go to work – while some 10 miles to the north the story of Mike Brown continues to unfold. We know what it looks like — the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has already done everything except sentence the police officer involved, further inflaming the situation — but we still don’t know what actually happened. The police say one thing; Mike Brown’s friend and family say another. And it may come down to the fact we may never know for certain, and instead align and barricade ourselves along political and racial lines. A few years ago in our own suburb, we had the reverse situation — a police officer asked a question and was shot to death by a young black man, but without the national attention that this current situation is receiving.

    This may well be a case of police brutality. But we just don’t know yet. My heart goes out to Brown’s family. My prayer is that the facts do come out, and justice is indeed served. But I can’t make to leap to determining guilt based on what is known at this point.

    • Mike Ward

      Well said. I’ve seen cases where the police were clearly in the wrong, I’ve seen cases where the police were clearly in the right, and I’ve seen everything in between, but when anyone jumps to conclusions, they only reveal their own bias.

    • erbks

      This *is* a case of police brutality. Note that I’m not saying that Brown did nothing to provoke police action. That may have very well been the case, but he was unarmed, and the police have all sorts of non-lethal technology — I’m thinking especially mace/pepper spray — to handle situations when an unarmed / possibly armed person is out of control and resisting arrest (which Brown, may or may not have done). There is no reason that he should have been killed! If he was out of control, he should have been resisted, subdued, maybe in the worst case injured, but not killed.

      It’s brutality because the consequences in no way fit any crime that an unarmed person like Brown may have committed — even in the very worst case.

  • Bill Morgan

    I think I’ll stand with the police officer. Like many 18 year old kids, he was living on
    his ego, which told him it was okay to rob a store whenever he liked, and push
    people around whenever he liked. After robbing a store, he let his swagger get
    the best of him, so he walks down the middle of the street. He wasn’t looking for a
    confrontation with anyone was he. Nah! He was in the wrong place at the wrong
    time, having just previously committed a crime. He thought he could get away with anything, even confronting a police office just doing his routine job. His actions were basically stupid at best. Malicious intent was probably also involved.
    When we do something stupid, we often wind up with dire unintended consequences.

  • Redlight

    So what do you have to say now that more actual evidence and autopsy came out?

    Michael Brown was under the influence of drugs, robbed a store, and now we know that he assaulted the police officer and was shot at close range as they proved that his blood is on the gun, on the officers uniform, and inside the police vehicle.

    This supports the claim of the officer that Michael Brown assaulted him and tried to go for his gun.

    It’s claims like yours that do more injustice than anything. You scream from the rooftops about police brutality, but fail to wait for conclusive evidence to come out. Who benefits from that? No one at all.

    You just proved that you were riding on the bandwagon with every other racebaiter and ragebaiter coming out of the woodwork.

    Now, more than ever it is important to have the full story before we condemn or vilify people in situations like this.

    I remember learning the term, “Innocent until proven guilty”, but somehow we’ve changed that to “Guilty until proven innocent in a court of public opinion .”


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