I am thinking about what’s going on in Minneapolis and in many major cities across the country and my heart breaks. A friend who lives in Minneapolis told me about how bad it is, how impossible it is to sleep and concentrate. She said, “At night there is a constant buzzing of helicopters and wailing of sirens, and between the images of the video of the cop killing George Floyd and the images of our local stores being burned to the ground, I am filled with sadness and just heartsick.” The Target that was looted and destroyed is the one she shopped at, the grocery store that burned is the one she frequented. Now they are gone. And they burned down an apartment building under construction that was going to have affordable apartments.
And, I get the rage. It’s necessary and a needed response to the brutality of violence systematically and persistently violating and tragically ending the lives of our black and brown sisters, brothers and cousins. As someone who aspires to be an activist at least some of the time, I know how important disruption is to changing an oppressive system. I sense that the officer charged with the murder of George Floyd’s death would not have been charged if the protests did not happen. Yet I sense too that we as a nation are standing at the crossroads where without a lot of intention and commitment things could move quickly and irrevocably away from the values of worth and dignity that we as a people claim. You have probably heard the quote from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. circulating social media, “a riot is the language of the unheard.” But Martin didn’t just say that, he walked the streets as Chicago burned inviting protesters to his apartment in the neighborhood and he listened with FBI agents huddled in the corner to their need for jobs, for safety, for a sense of future.
Today, the people impacted by police violence in Minneapolis are demanding “the City Council become visionary leaders by pledging to defund the Minneapolis Police Department and invest in the resources that really keep us safe and healthy, especially in Black communities, Indigenous communities and communities of color.” It’s time to rethink policing in this country. The fact that the police system is historically rooted in patrols to capture escaped slaves is embedded in the cultural DNA of the system. Let us start over. Let us all be visionaries to rethink how we keep our communities safe, starting with our beloved brown and black brothers, sisters and cousins, who will, if we listen, tell us how to be in true solidarity. Rep. Ayanna Pressley is calling for legislation that condemns police brutality, and closer to home three state bills address needed police reforms, including the elimination of “qualified immunity.” Reforms that are just the beginning. Sunday, the Social Justice Ministry Council is inviting us all to participate in a vigil on the green at 7:00 to stand in solidarity with our black and brown sisters, brothers and cousins. A vigil that symbolizes our collective commitment to take the risks needed to make change happen that begins to heal the deep wounds of racial hatred in our nation. (Scroll down for more information from the SJMC.)
Holding us all in love and light, Rev Jill
For more information on reforming police policy to combat brutality fo to 8cantwait.org