IMAC Statement On Racial Issues
Once again, a Black man’s life, Daunte Wright in Minnesota, has been taken as the result of the disproportionate police tactics used on African Americans, which is a tip of the iceberg in the nation’s racial injustice. The Interdenominational Ministers Action Council, the faith community, the Civil Rights community, the Black Lives Matter
movement, African Americans, and frankly America in general are tired, and these incidents, which appear to be disproportionately in the Black community, must stop. Our faith encourages confession is an extremely important part of the transformation process- -confession is good for the soul. It is time for our nation to confess it has a problem withAmerica’s Original sin--racism and white supremacy—and work to save the soul of America. It has to happen at every level of government and society.
We have seen a stream of racial incidents with the arrival of 2021. First there was the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol Building, our nation’s greatest symbol of democracy on the day the 2020 Election was to be certified. Those who stormed the Capitol claimed to be “patriots,” yet they wanted to plant an insurrectionist Confederate flag, an emblem of racism, slavery and terror. They were acting on the lie the 2020 election was “stolen,” without any evidence to support that claim. “The lie” contested voter turn-out in Georgia, specifically the Atlanta area, Detroit, MI, Milwaukee, WI, and Philadelphia, PA, all areas where large numbers of Black and Brown people live, and who turned out to vote in record numbers. The insurrection happened the day after the first African American man, along with the first Jewish man were elected to the United States Senate from the State of Georgia. These mostly white insurrectionists were treated royally, compared to how Black peaceful protesters were treated last summer after the George Floyd killing during Black Lives Matter protests. America’s racial past has been on display since “the lie,” with most states quickly devising, and some already passing, voting laws restrictive in Black and Brown communities.
This insidious and overt racism was on display again when eight people were shot down in three spas in Atlanta. Six of those killed were Asian American women, and it is
believed those Asian American businesses were targeted. Asian Americans have been hampered by blatant racism and harassment nonstop since the former President called the COVID 19 pandemic “the Kung Flu.” This too is part of the cauldron of the years of the de facto racism and white supremacy that have plagued our country for centuries.
Now another young Black man’s life was taken much too soon, this time not because officers “feared for their lives.” The excuse this time was a 26 year veteran of the force mistook a heavy black 9MM pistol for a lighter weight bright colored taser. This senseless loss of the human life of another African American is beyond getting old. Enough is enough. This pattern simply doesn’t happen to White people at the same frequency it continues to happen to African American men and women. The name Daunte Wright is now added to the list of senseless African America homicides, the
result of overzealous policing in the Black community and the overabundance of incidents that at least appear to be racist and dehumanizing in nature. Add to those police numbers some people who have dubbed themselves neighborhood watch law enforcement, and have taken the life of young Black men, as in the cases of Trayvon Martin or Ahmaud Arbery.
Here in our own City and State we have had situations with questionable backdrops. There was the case with Jeremy McDole several years ago, and a police shooting which was questionable at best. Then there was the case with non-fatal police shooting of Yahim Harris by a police officer who received felony charges after lying about the incident. Most recently we witnessed the fatal police shooting of Lymond Moses by New Castle Police, and the family and community members are calling for an investigation. We already know some of the responses. “They must have been doing something
wrong.” . . . “Why did they run or resist?” . . . “What about Black on Black violence?” The latter an obvious attempt to gaslight the problem with policing and race.
We would be the first to suggest when a crime is committed people should be apprehended commensurate with whatever the crime, and if anyone’s life is truly in danger, the officer or anyone else, appropriate actions need to be taken. However, infractions that warrant a citation should not be criminalized. Every broken tail-light, failure to signal a turn, air freshener hanging from a rear view mirror, or someone “fitting the description,” cannot be a pretext for further investigation of Black men. We have to wonder are Whites stopped for these minor infractions, which sometimes amount to a death sentence for African Americans.
The question isn’t about what young Black people may or may not have done, or why they may have resisted. The question is really about the sanctity every person’s life and humanity. Every person named or referenced here was, or is, a human being. Our faith suggests the life of every person should be protected because every one of us is “created in the image of God.” When people seek to end those lives, even police officers with tactics of brutality, they are destroying the common good, and for us they are extinguishing a part God’s creation. When these actions are carried out because of racism and white supremacy, direct or systemic, those actions go against God’s principles of truth, justice and rightness in the world, foundational principles of the God we serve.
We have reached a point where we cannot simply say these actions are because an officer thought his or her life was in danger, or even like now because it was an unfortunate mistake. The list is long--Oscar Grant. Amadou Diallo. Philando Castille. Sandra Bland.
Rayshard Brooks. Elijah McClain. Tamir Rice. Trayvon Martin. Mike Brown. Botham Jean. Atatiana Jefferson. John Crawford. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd. Now, Daunte Wright. This is a brief list of African Americans who lost their lives at the hands of so called policing. The excuses become outlandish and bizarre. The “I fear for my life” has been used and used and used again. It is getting old. Now, our intelligence is being insulted with the excuse the officer who was on the force for 26 years, a onetime head of the police union, carrying her weapons every day, presumably practicing and passing department shooting standards regularly, with her weapons in the proper placement on opposite sides of her body, simply made a mistake and mistook her Glock 9MM pistol for her taser.
These cases involving African Americans happen all too frequently in the African American community. What used to be systemic, and perhaps hidden from most people,
has boiled to the surface and is on display with at its outcomes visible to everyone. If our nation is going to be a paragon of justice and freedom, we have to actively address the original sin of racism. In 1903 W.E.B. Dubois said the problem of the 20th Century would be the problem of race—how to deal with it and end the racism of the nation. We are now 118 years later and in the 21st Century and the Dubois statement is as relevant today as it was in the opening years of the last century. It is well time for the nation to confess its sin, repent, and begin the process of restitution. It can start with addressing the racism in policing.