For longer than I’d care to recall, black men, women and children have become the visible targets of “justice”. Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile are but a few among many of the latest to be named, mourned and protested over. Each of them have either died in police custody or in direct interaction with men and women who have been sworn to uphold the law, as well as protect and serve the public.
The hardest things for many people across America to understand is how so many of these people have seemingly ended up dead with no visible sign of a threat being present. It hard to believe that violent mass murderers like James Holmes and Dylan Roof can seemingly be taken into custody without incident and be kept safe. Yet, the aforementioned people, many unarmed or fully compliant when approached wind up dead within minutes.
For many people, these events sound like a scene out of the movie Judge Dredd, when actor Sylvester Stallone is put on trial and his response to the court is, “I never broke the law! I am the law!” While Judge Dredd happened to be a quite righteous keeper of the law in the film, fighting a corrupt system, the system being faced by many across America do not have men and women like Judge Dredd stepping up to root out the problems that seem so pervasive.
In scripture, when God asked Cain where his brother was, it was not that He did not know. It was a matter of discerning his heart, just as it had been when his father Adam was confronted in the Garden of Eden. God let Cain know that Abel’s blood was crying out from the ground (see Gen. 4:9-10).
All across the country, civil rights leaders, faith community leaders, families and friends of victims are the representation of both God in the earth and the blood that is crying out for justice to be carried out in response to each and every death that has been wrought. However, it appears that few, if any have heard or are responding.
You have to wonder a few things in light of what you see. Either the (African American) public is collectively being viewed as an enemy of the police, or these “civil and public servants” have taken a skewed view of the oath they’ve taken to protect and serve, and instead have determined that these killings are “friendly fire” and “Justifiable Homicides”. However you choose to see it, there is an apparent difference in how one set of citizens is treated versus others.
Someone recently pointed out how there used to be a fear of men in white sheets who would come under the shroud of darkness to hang African Americans for daring to be free. Now, even as many have recently celebrated the nation’s Independence Day, that same fear is being felt by many from the men and women in blues with badges.
I grew up in the days of “Officer Friendly”, a program where the police officers took pride in coming to schools and educating boys and girls about the need to uphold the laws and how they could come to them at anytime for any reason. Now, so many law abiding citizens fear police as much, if not more than the criminal threats that are on their streets.
By now, there is no one who can say that there is no one crying out for justice. Cities have been burned. Protests have gone on. People around the world have seen and are as confounded by the absurdity of it all.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “All it takes for evil to thrive is for good men to do nothing.” Self-preservation seems to be the thing that is valued above building trust between the citizens and those who’ve been entrusted to keep them safe; even from themselves.
Congressman Elijah Cummings recently stated how there is something blatantly wrong with how things are happening and asked Director Comey to make it a part of his next 2000 days on the job to look into these things. He went further to state his appreciation for officers of the law, but illustrated the frustration that he and many law abiding African American citizens share when it comes to persistent stoppings by officers.
I have to agree with another man whom recently stated that nothing will change until those who are responsible for keeping the peace. They must also uphold the law and be held to the same standards as citizens, rather than protected by the shield that gives them the authority that they have the privilege of stewarding. The response to the injustice must come from those who are charged with the task. This includes law makers at the local, state and national level. It includes the interpreters of law at every level. Most of all, it absolutely includes those who are called to enforce those laws.