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August 10, 2019

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Rebuilding a memorial to Michael Brown

Five years after Ferguson, We’re Losing the Fight Against Police Violence – from The New York Times

“Mark the blameless, and behold the upright, for there is posterity for the peaceable.”
– Psalm 37:37
Five years ago I had never heard of Ferguson, Missouri, so I did some research. I learned it was a suburb of St. Louis; I learned it had roughly the same number of residents as the county in which I grew up; I learned that over the last 40 years, the population of Ferguson shifted from 99 percent white in 1970 to 67 percent black in 2010. 

But what I didn’t learn from those statistics is more present today than those hot August days of 2014.

I learned: Having black police chiefs and more black officers doesn’t equal anti-racism. Changing policies and practices must be at the forefront of police reforms. 

I learned: The weddedness of local police and militarism can be documented –specifically that American police departments receive the same training and utilize the same tactics of those delivered by major prison security companies who benefit from the prison-industrial complex and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. 

I learned: What happened in Ferguson may have affected us universally, but the particularity of the event belonged to black residents of Ferguson. I am deeply appreciative of a conversation with a friend and colleague regarding the nuances between stating “We Are Ferguson” and “We Stand with Ferguson.” 

I learned: We still have a lot of work to do. As this New York Times article reminds us, passion for justice must be combined with taking action to change the systems of oppression. 
#SayTheirNames – Michael Brown. Eric Garner. Philando Castile. Rekia Boyd. Sandra Bland. Tamir Rice. And so many others. Say their names. Remember them and their families in prayer. And keep their lives at the forefront of your work in the resistance. 

Read up on the ACLU’s work on policing reforms. And become a member.    

Who are we, Holy One, to judge the other,
to put up walls and make decisions based on broken windows
and data and metrics filled with assumptions and biases?

Who are we, Holy One, to ask forgiveness for ourselves
while propping up systems of hate and separation – from each other, from you?

Who are we to turn our eyes from Ferguson, from Mott Haven, 
from Watts, from Sandtown and South Side? 

Who are we? Who have we become? Who are we to be?
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