The Execution of #PatrickLYOYA is The Execution of CHRIST.
Growing up, our youth group regularly watched depictions of the passion of Christ. Imagine, terrible white actors covered in fake blood. In the midst of it all, we were always encouraged to manifest emotion. Our leader would shout out…. “Feel what Christ has done for you!” On multiple occasions, I remember pushing my eyelids as hard as I could to make myself look like I’d been crying. As everybody manifested the expected tears, I didn’t want to be left out. Earlier today, I didn’t have to press on my eyelids. The tears came quite naturally as I watched a video of the most recent passion of the Christ…the execution of Congolese immigrant Patrick Lyoya by an officer from the Grand Rapids (MI) Police Department.
Early last week, Christ got into his car. Driving down the street, Christ noticed an officer pulling up behind him. After tailing him for a moment, the officer pulled Christ over. Unsure of why he was being pulled over in the first place, Christ struggled to figure out what was going on. The officer declared that his license plate didn’t match the car. He never said why he felt the need to run the license plate in the first place. Christ knew very well why he ran it. Officers were always looking to pull over folks like Christ. After some verbal back and forth, Christ tried to find his license. The officer kept escalating the situation with his words and body language. Afraid for his life, Christ ran. The officer chased him. When the officer caught up, he began to struggle with Christ. Over and over again…afraid for his life…Christ fell to the ground and got back up. The officer called for more officers. This only made Christ more frightened. “Stop resisting!” The anger in the officer’s voice only escalated the situation. When the officer pulled a weapon, Christ swatted at it to try and save his life. The officer fires. Now on top of Christ, the officer keeps screaming and pushing. The situation just keeps growing more and more violent. The officer seems to be generating an excuse to use even greater force. As Christ squirms for his life, the officer pulls out his gun and fires one shot into the back of Christ’s head. There in the grass…Christ bled out.
I saw it all.
In the midst of the holiest days in the Christian year, we can equate Patrick Lyoya with Christ based on Christ’s declaration that he would most viscerally dwell “…in the least of these.” So, as we remember the execution of Christ…let us not forget the execution of Patrick Lyoya at the hands of an officer from the Grand Rapids Police Department…because if we do, we have forgotten Christ.
The Rev. Dr. Jeff Hood
Dean, The New Theology School