A litany for those who aren’t ready for healing

People gathered Sunday, June 7, at the site where George Floyd was murdered.

Four years ago yesterday, July 6, Philando Castile was shot dead by St. Anthony police after he was stopped for driving with a broken tail light.

One of the officers asked Castille for his drivers license and registration. Castile informed the officer that he had a firearm (which he had a license to carry.) When Castile reached for paperwork, an officer shot him seven times at close range.

Castile joined the growing list of black men killed by police.

Hundreds of people gathered at Luther Seminary for a Service of Prayer and Lament honoring Castile’s life, one of many such services. A particularly moving part was a reading by Afro Christian scholar Rev. Yolanda Pierce called “A Litany for those who aren’t ready for healing.”

I came across it again today. Given George Floyd’s murder and the events that followed, it seems like an appropriate to reprint it. Continue reading

Religious institutions speak out on George Floyd’s murder, repent for past complicity, call for change

Police protect the Third Precinct. (file)

The President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said most police officers “carry out their duties with honor”

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, the anger over long-standing problems with police brutality has boiled over to the streets. It’s put the question of the police’s role in society squarely on the front burner. Some are pushing to abolish the police altogether.

In this deeply moral moment, religious communities are weighing in, issuing statements on Floyd’s murder.

Faith communities have played an important role in civil rights movements. Their voices could be powerful in pushing for greater police accountability. This blog will follow how they engage in this important work in the coming months.

What follows is a summary of some of the initial statements on Floyd’s murder, including links and short excerpts. For those of you who are part of one of these faith communities, this is an opportunity to push them to follow through on their commitments and then some.

This list is based on an Internet search and may not be complete. Please post links to statements we missed in the comment section below.

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News Wrap: Updates on local, national police reform proposals; why this all started in Minneapolis, and more

In this blog:

  • Communities United Against Police Brutality issue report on ending police violence
  • Nationwide tracking of public officials, governments, in support for divesting from police to invest in community needs
  • CityLab: Why Minneapolis was the city that triggered a national uprising
  • NYT essay: Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written. Black Americans have fought to make them true.
  • Friends offering online screening of “Suppressed: The Right to Vote” in honor of Juneteenth

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Police reform, police abolition, and barriers to police accountability: An overview

There’s an ongoing gathering at the flower-strewn site where George Floyd was killed.

A veto-proof majority of the Minneapolis City Council has committed to dismantle and defund the Minneapolis Police Department, according to stories in MPR, the Star Tribune, CNN and other news outlets.

In New York City, Mayor Bill DeBlasio is proposing to shift some police funding to social services, with the idea that such funding will do more to promote public safety than funding the tradition police force. Congressional Democrats have proposed the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 which “would ban chokeholds, establish a national database to track police misconduct and prohibit certain no-knock warrants, among other initiatives,” the Washington Post reports.

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Minneapolis police union losing public support, MN unions press police union president to resign

The Minneapolis Police Department has become a toxic brand, and rightfully so.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, the Minneapolis Public Schools, the University of Minnesota, the Walker Art Center and other organizations have cut ties with the Minneapolis Police Department following George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. (Floyd had allegedly tried to pass a fake $20 bill, a nonviolent crime.)

Key unions around the state are calling on Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Police Officers Association of Minneapolis, to resign over his handling of Floyd’s murder, his history of inflammatory statements, and his antagonism towards communities of color. Continue reading

Statements on George Floyd’s murder from Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors, Indigenous Environmental Network

The Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors (MUID) and the Indigenous Environmental Network have both issued statements on the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police, identifying the roots of the problem and ways to get involved.

In a related matter, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz today announced an investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department, focusing on discriminatory practices against people of color. Continue reading

Ways Minnesota’s white churches need to use their power and faith

Anahkwud Mihgiizay, Ajiijak Dodem (Wendy Stone)

A guest blog by Anahkwud Mihgiizay, Ajiijak Dodem (Wendy Stone), a descendant of some of the continent’s original inhabitants, the Chippewa and Peoria peoples. (She also is a direct descendant of Gouveneur Morris, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and framer of the US Constitution.) Originally from Michigan, she now lives in Minneapolis. Ms. Stone volunteers for the Great Lakes Peace Center, Mask Movement (a response to the coronavirus) and water protection, environmental, and human equality organizations.

Churches of Minnesota! It’s time to use your might and faith for real change, embracing your values of love and justice. Right now. This is your moment, if you have the courage to challenge yourself and your members.

You cannot “support the good police officers” by continuing to defend the very corrupt and dysfunctional systems created by and for the police. It’s time to acknowledge the basic truth: The system has shown us time and again that it’s utterly broken. George Floyd’s murder is just the latest exclamation point.

Here are concrete ways you can act. The ideas below were put forward by people of color, leading other people of color, who have devoted years to dismantling the laws that perpetuate the cycles of brutality and protests. These are tangible, effective ways you can leverage your congregation’s position and influence. Continue reading

Charges brought in George Floyd’s murder, greater work remains around systemic racism, police reforms

Officer Derek Chauvin remained kneeling on Floyd’s neck even after another officer said he couldn’t find Floyd’s pulse.

Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in George Floyd’s death, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced today at a press conference. He expected to bring charges against the other three police officers at the scene who failed to intervene, but those cases are still under review, he said.

People not only want justice for Floyd but they want and deserve systemic change, both to address the underlying problems of structural racism and the long-standing problems at the Minneapolis Police Department that Floyd’s case represents. That work requires that we speak clearly and directly to explain the causes and conditions that led to Floyd’s murder. Continue reading

MN Council of Churches CEO calls for the arrest and prosecution of Minneapolis officers involved in killing George Floyd

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. Continue reading