Friday, July 8, 2016

Responding to Tragedy

In the wake of the two most recent shootings of black men by police officers, made all the more visible by the immediate release of videos on social media, I am shocked and saddened by the loss of life.  I am frustrated that this has become a repeated event; I am unsettled that I am not more outraged or affected by these deaths; and I am distinctly aware that my life, even with its many difficulties and struggles, will never have the same level of uncertainty or fear that those of a different skin color experience.  We talk of a society that is colorblind, but in reality we are blinded by color.  My color blinds and binds me to my own experience and community, and I sit idle, uncertain of how to respond, despite the repeated bang of the drum, the call for justice, and another loss of life. 

As I wrote this last sentence media reports came in of eleven police officers being shot, five of whom were killed in Dallas, TX.  These officers were stationed at a protest, protecting those who marched and called for justice.  Five lives lost, now added to the two lives lost before.

On Good Friday of this past year the Madison Catholic Worker organized a Social Justice Stations of the Cross around the state capital building.  The 4th Station – Jesus Falls took place in front of the Madison Police Department.  In remembrance of Alton Sterling (7/5/16) and Philando Castile (7/6/16), and in remembrance of the five officers killed in the line of duty and six who were wounded (7/7/16), I would again like to share the readings and the litany of names that followed:

Station 4 - In front of the Madison Police Department

Station 4: Jesus Falls

Leader:             In our city and across the country there has been a national conversation concerning policing and its impact on the community.  A level of mistrust and pain has arisen, as those weighed down by violence, poverty, racism, and a lack of opportunity stumble and fall under the weight of the cross.  We are called here to recognize the underlying causes of suffering within our own backyard.  We are called to respond through relationship and forgiveness.  We are called to remember the names of all those who have fallen victim to violence.

Leader:             Tony Robinson – March 6, 2015

All:                     Presente

Leader:             Police Officer David Stefan Hofer – March 1, 2016

All:                     Presente

Leader:             Daily, members of the police force, the sheriff’s department, and all other branches of public safety confront the brokenness of our community – responding to calls of domestic abuse, mental health crises, exploitation, drug addiction, and verbal assault.  They are witnesses to the very worst of the human condition, but are also provided with the opportunity to offer a hand to those who have fallen down.

Leader:             Police Officer Allen Lee Jacobs – March 18, 2016

All:                     Presente

Leader:             Trayvon Martin – February 26, 2012

All:                     Presente

Leader:             We heed the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as we seek to make whole all that has been broken, as we look toward healing instead of fracture: “True peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice.

Leader:             Eric Garner – July 17, 2014

All:                     Presente

Leader:             Officer Ashley Marie Guindon – February 27, 2016

All:                     Presente

Leader:             Violence is a cyclical event that does not cease unless we are willing to take a stand and speak out on behalf of those who are most affected.  We must commit ourselves to the Gospel’s radical call for peace, and not stand idly by when confronted by injustice.
Leader:             Deputy Sheriff Carl A. Koontz – March 20, 2016

All:                     Presente

Leader:             Michael Brown – August 9, 2014

All:                     Presente

Leader:             We recall the recent shooting deaths by police of individuals within our communities, specifically individuals of color. 

                             Alton Sterling (Baton Rouge, LA) – July 5, 2016

                             Philando Castile (Falcon Heights, MN) – July 6, 2016

Leader:             We recall the recent shooting deaths of police who were killed in the line of duty.

                             The five officers killed and six wounded (Dallas, TX) – July 7, 2016
All:                     Be still and know that I am God.


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