Many organizations have released statements of grief, sadness and calls for justice in response to George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police. The following comes from Rev. Curtiss DeYoung, CEO of the Minnesota Council of Churches.
(Full disclosure, Healing Minnesota Stories is an initiative of the Minnesota Council of Churches.)
Under the heading: “How long, O Lord,” DeYoung calls on faith leaders to press for systemic changes in policing in Minnesota. He calls faith leaders to push for the arrest and prosecution of the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck until he died, and the arrest and prosecution of the three officers who stood nearby and failed to come to George’s aid.
Here is DeYoung’s full statement:
How long, O Lord?
The Scriptures often cry out, “How long, O Lord?” This cry is emanating once again from Minneapolis and the rest of the nation with the police killing of George Floyd. Another brutal killing of a black person by law enforcement. How long, O God? He was killed while screaming, “Please, I can’t breathe.” How long, O God? Three police officers watched, heard the cry, and did not intervene. How long, O God? How long will the killing of African Americans by police officers continue? The brutal attacks on black bodies is not acceptable. How long, O God?
In this moment, I ask the faith community for these four responses:
Presence – Find ways to be present where people are feeling grief and outrage. Many of us were at the protest rally last night in Minneapolis held at the site of the killing. But this presence must continue in the days ahead. Reach out to African American church leaders and members and stand with them in this moment. Stand with the Minneapolis NAACP, Urban League, and other black-led civil rights and community organizations. Stand with the courageous young activists who have relentlessly pressed the issues through the senseless police killings of Jamar Clark and Philando Castile and now George Floyd.
Protest – Presence must turn into protest. Speak truth to power. Do not allow this great violation to go unchecked. Call for police accountability. Call for a system-wide transformation of policing in Minnesota. Call this an act of anti-black racism even when some white narratives blame the victim.
Prosecution – Protest is not enough. The four police officers involved must be charged and prosecuted. Our moral voice must help ensure this happens.
Prayers – As people of faith we must pray for the family and friends of George Floyd. We must pray for the neighbors in the Central Neighborhood of Minneapolis where this great violation occurred. We must pray for African Americans and people of color who are feeling fear, rage, grief, and hopelessness. We must pray for racial justice and equity in our city and nation.
How long, O God, how long?
[Update: The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference and the Minnesota Council of Churches issued a joint statement on Floyd’s killing. (The Chicago-based Conference has a mission to: “nurture, sustain, and mobilize the African American faith community in collaboration with civic, corporate, and philanthropic leaders to address critical needs of human and social justice within local, national, and global communities.”) It reads in part:
“The African American community is not whining. We are not making up our reality. The racism in this country is deeply entrenched in everything – especially and including its laws and its legal system . Work has to be done to change the system. Until that is done, these tragic killings are going to continue.” …
“If these officers are not indicted, brought to trial, convicted, and given sentences commensurate with the vile act of Floyd’s tragic murder, the police department will have blood on its hands.” (Emphasis in the original.)]
A statement from the Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors (MUID), a collaborative of some thirty American Indian organizations in the Twin Cities, provides more context for community anger:
The MPD [Minneapolis Police Department] has a long history violence against indigenous people and people of color. The American Indian Movement was founded in Minneapolis in 1968 as a direct response to unchecked brutality being perpetrated by the Minneapolis Police Department upon our community members. In 1992, two members of our community were forcibly constrained into the trunk of a Minneapolis Police Cruiser. In 2008, the officer who killed George Floyd, Officer Chauvin shot and wounded an individual during a domestic violence call, and then again in 2011, Officer Chauvin shot and injured a man at Little Earth. In 2015 Jamar Clark was murdered at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department. Sadly these are just some examples of many such incidents.
Still, in 2020, the MPD are openly murdering black and brown people in broad daylight without hesitation, and without any concern from the open shouts of local bystanders who pleaded for the life of Mr. Floyd. …
MUID calls on the swift and vigorous prosecution of the four offending (and now terminated) officers complicit in this murder to the fullest extent of the law.
Click on the link above for the full statement.