A Statement from LifeJourney’s Pastors
As you know, an African American man, George Floyd, died on Monday after a Minneapolis police officer pinned him to the ground with his knee on his neck for 8 minutes, hands bound behind his back, as three other officers watched and bystanders pleaded for mercy. The dialogue recorded on video went something like this:
Floyd: “Please, sir, I can’t breathe. Please, please, I can’t breathe.”
Officer: “What do you want?”
Floyd: “Oh, oh, oh. I can’t breathe.”
Officer: “Get up and get in the car.”
Floyd: “I will.”
Officer (knee still on neck): “Get up and get in the car.”
Floyd: “I can’t move.”
Bystander 1: “How long you going to hold him down?”
Bystander 2: “He’s human, bro. He’s not even resisting arrest right now, bro. You’re stopping his breathing right now.
The dialogue continued like that for several minutes until Mr. Floyd fell silent and went unconscious. Still, the officer kept his knee on his neck.
“And Jesus wept.” John 11:35.
When something so horrific happens, a statement is not enough. But silence is also not an option. Whatever Mr. Floyd may have done before he was murdered is irrelevant; there is no justification for the excessive use of force against a man who was handcuffed on the ground, face down, with no weapon, who was not a threat in that position, and was pleading for his life. Things like this just keep happening over and over again. Don’t jog while black, don’t bird watch while black, don’t live while black!
Mr. Floyd’s death feels like a tipping point. What protesters are feeling is rage and fury over the relentless drumbeat of black men losing their lives in senseless incidents. Rioting is not the solution. Dr. King called for peaceful protest, but he also reminded us that, “A riot is the language of the unheard,” when frustration and hopelessness run so deep they boil over.
So what can we do to be part of the solution? The scope of systemic racism can feel overwhelming, but we have to keep chipping away. Here are a few concrete ways we can try to make a difference:
- We all should pause for a moment to mourn the death of George Floyd. His life was precious in God’s sight.
- In our social circles and workplaces, we should be proactive in opposing racism and modeling radical inclusion. No looking the other way.
- We should elect government officials who are determined to proactively root out racism.
- We should celebrate police officers who carry out their duties honorably, while holding accountable those who don’t. Consider contacting the prosecutor in Mr. Floyd’s case to urge him to see that justice is done. His name is Mike Freeman, 612-348-5550, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- As a church family, we must continue to use our collective influence and resources to fight racism. Our pastoral staff has concerns about our own city’s police policies and procedures. We have committed to each other that we will dig deeper into those policies and consider whether to launch a petition advocating positive changes.
The bottom line is, the status quo is unacceptable. The Bible says:
“Learn to do good, seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the [vulnerable].” Isaiah 1:17.
We have a spiritual obligation to be part of the solution.