The issue, at its core, is sin.
- Abraham Hamilton, III
Racism exists. Police Brutality exists. The loss of a life should cause all of us to stop, consider, and be sobered by the biblical reality that death results in someone opening their eyes in heaven or hell. Culture tries desperately to desensitize us to death but we must resist that ploy with all our strength.
So far this year 706 people have been shot and killed by police officers. One hundred ninety four black people have been killed by police officers in 2016. This number doesn't separate the justified from unjustified shootings, nor does it distinguish between cases where the decedents were armed. Moreover, 730 black babies are killed in their mothers' wombs each day! According to FBI data, 4,906 black people were killed by other black people (we also know that the overwhelming majority of these were young black men killing other young black men) in 2010 and 2011. However, 3,446 black people were reportedly lynched from 1882-1968. If those stats are correct, that means 1,460 more black men were killed in two years by other black men than all the black people who were lynched in 86 years...that includes the Jim Crow era, segregation, Black Wall Street's destruction, and the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.
Are we equally outraged by all assault on life or is excessive police force the only valid cause for moral outrage? If one seeks to oppose all forms of unjustified termination of life they risk being maligned as socially unconscious (or not “woke” for those in the know – sarcasm intended). Hard truth coming...it is more dangerous for black people in the womb, and on the street, than it is for them to be confronted by police officers.
Hear me clearly, police brutality does occur. Some police officers are racists and abuse their authority. These betrayers of the public trust and criminals must be identified, arrested, and prosecuted when they break the law. But, there aren't nearly as many of these police officers as the national media would try to suggest. In fact, it is an extremely infinitesimal minority. Inner city communities need good police officers. All areas need good police officers. If we aren't careful, we will endanger the communities that are most vulnerable to the criminal element by creating a dangerous shortage of those who protect and serve. Those who would be honorable law enforcement officers will find some other vocation and those who already serve will seek early retirement rather than deal with the mounting public hostility towards police in general.
Many have developed a perception of police officers based on the few bad apples who deserve to be buried under the jail (racist serial rapist and former Oklahoma City Police Officer Daniel Holtzclaw comes to mind). It saddens me how ignorant or oblivious many of our white brothers and sisters in Christ are to the instances where racism, excessive force, and abuse by police officers has been blatant. Senator Tim Scott, a black Christian Republican United States Senator, took to the Senate floor to describe some of his negative experiences with police officers since becoming member of the U.S. Congress. We have to confront that, wrestle with it, evaluate ourselves and see if any personal adjustments are in order on our part. People aren't developing these perception out of thin air. It’s not imagined. It may not be as pervasive and the media makes it out to be but it isn’t made up out of thin air either.
We also have to wrestle with the fact that there are "high crime areas" that impact how police approach certain scenarios. We have to consider what things contribute to these areas becoming high crime areas and what contributes to police officers developing their perceptions of high crime areas and the people who populate them. Let’s be honest. How many people who grew up in the inner city, referred to as “the hood,” actually want to live in the hood today? Most (if not all) who live in inner city neighborhoods would move immediately if they could. We all know that. Why? Because most inner city neighborhoods in America are crime infested and no responsible person wants to expose their families to the dangers lurking therein. Consequently, it’s appalling to hear black people shout "injustice" while simultaneously ignoring the fact that the inner city communities are often overrun by criminals who come from broken homes. We have to be honest by confronting that reality and asking ourselves if any personal adjustments are in order on our part.
Of course, I know perception isn't confined to the hood but I think you get the point. The issue, at its core, is sin. We can beat around the bush and trim the weeds if we want, but if we avoid uprooting them we can count on revisiting them in the immediate future. We need all hands on deck. We need to preach the Gospel, make disciples, break bread with one another, pray together and for one another (regardless of ethnicity), enforce existing laws, change laws, seek more accountability in our servant-leaders, love one another beyond our comfort zones, have the hard conversations, have the easy conversations, and love one another enough to avoid the temptation to retreat to "our corners." The change we seek must begin with ourselves.
This has to start in the Church and work its way out from there. But we must also seek justice completely. Remember, "Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it completely" (Proverbs 28:5). Resist calls for "justice" that are only demands for vengeance or retribution. Let's judge rightly, biblically, and welcome the Spirit of God to govern our hearts and guide our engagement. Heaven will be populated by every tribe, ethnicity, nationality and tongue. Let our churches begin now to give us a taste of what we, Christians, will enjoy for eternity.
Grace and Peace.