Being black in America should not be punishable by death. But the tragic and senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery serve as shameful examples of the sinful disregard for the sanctity of black lives.
As people of faith, we believe that everyone is created in the image of God, and thus deserves love, respect and justice. We cannot look away or shudder in silence when racism denies these values. We must demand that our leaders investigate the vile truth before us. We call on the U.S. Department of Justice to thoroughly and transparently investigate the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, and hold the perpetrators accountable.
People of faith cannot remain neutral amid the numbing national chorus of white fear and white privilege which fuels black death at white hands. Police killed 1,099 people last year in the United States. Black Americans represented 24 percent of those who died, nearly twice their proportion of the population.
In community after community, headlines and dead bodies prove the systemic and rampant devaluation of black life. In Glynn County, Georgia, 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery was shot dead by two white men while jogging. Only after video of the killing was publicly leaked were they arrested. George Floyd died pleading for breath while the knee of a duly sworn police officer squeezed the life out of him. Floyd’s killing cries out for a full federal investigation. We demand the same for Breonna Taylor, an EMT in Louisville, Kentucky, who was shot at least eight times after police forced their way into her apartment.
The racism that leads to the killing of unarmed black people by police and vigilantes was also on display in a recent videotaped incident in New York City’s Central Park, where a black man bird-watching asked a white woman to comply with the requirement that her dog be kept on leash. She responded by threatening to call 911, saying “I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.” She then followed through on the threat. Such incidents illustrate how easily white privilege is wielded as a degrading weapon against black people’s lives.
This is not a black moment. This is a moral, mountain-moving moment. Allies of every race, particularly those who are white, must call these acts what they are: the poisonous fruit of unchecked privilege and endemic bigotry. As people of faith, we must do more than just say the names of the slaughtered. We must sign our names publicly on their behalf and demand the full measure of justice for their bloodshed. Attorney General Barr: let the eyes of the law see George, Ahmaud and Breonna as God does. Black Lives Matter to God.
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