With all the news of killings we’ve seen the past two weeks – of blacks and whites, police and civilians – we need to have a dialogue about race as well as religion. We also have the people of Turkey in our thoughts and hearts. Here are links to a few thoughtful articles and statements.
The most recent National Catholic Reporter has an article about Catholic bishops and pastors being asked to speak out about race. Read “Black Catholic leaders want a stronger church response to police killings.”
The Dialogue Institute of the Southwest’s Alliance for Shared Values offered this statement on the situation in Turkey, denouncing military interventions in domestic politics and advocating for peace and democracy.
Kay Huggins, Interim Executive Director of the New Mexico Conference of Churches, sent this email:
While we weep, we continue to work…
Dear friends, I found these words heartening. Please read through to the end.
From the Office of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.
Once again the nation, and the African American community, in particular, is faced with two more high-profile killings of African American males. Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile of the Twin Cities area of Minnesota are the latest among a long list of publicized and unjustified killings by law enforcement officers in the United States.
The questionable nature of African American males and females dying at the hands of police in our streets and in police custody is so pervasive in the United States that the U.S. Justice Department is leading the investigation in the Sterling case and has been asked to investigate the Castile case.
While these police killings are occurring, it is apparent that we remain a denomination that struggles to engage the truth about our own privilege. As church leaders, we find it easy to offer prayers for the families while mentioning a statement in our Sunday morning sermons about the struggles of racism in the U.S. Yet our depth of commitment to resolve the problem of blatant racism within our own communities is often shallow and meaningless.
Therefore, police departments charged with the responsibility to protect and serve remain unchecked by common citizens, because we are not calling powers and principalities into accountability as a response to the gospel message. The Bible reminds us that, “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them, because greater is the one who is in you than the one who is in the world” (I John 4:4). Our ability to overcome the world by the God-bestowed power within us requires faith and courage.
One of our quiet and persistent saints on the Board of Directors of NMCC, is the newly retired Reverend Bob Aubrey. For the past year and a half, Bob has represented NMCC on a coalition of concerned citizens and agencies known as APD Forward. With amicus status APD Forward is a “Friend of the Court” in the Monitoring of the Albuquerque Police Department by the Department of Justice. The work is slow and persistent and requires exactly the faith and courage mentioned in the article above.
At this point in the monitoring process, APD Forward is preparing a response to the third report of the Dr. Ginger, the official monitor. One poignant concern centers on the difficulty in approval and the restrictions placed upon individuals desiring to serve on the Community Policing Councils (CPCs). The background check extends over months, the requirement to complete a 12-week Citizen’s Police Academy training is daunting, and exclusion of individuals with petty misdemeanors, DWI arrests, or felony convictions for which rehabilitation has been completed demeans the idea of community policing principles.
APD Forward supports the inclusion of all community members interested in participating in Community Policing Councils. Indeed, APD Forward believes the CPCs should be independent of both the City and APD in actuality and by appearance. Bob Aubrey, on NMCC’s behalf, shares in pondering and pressing this process of monitoring the monitor. By such work gives a practical expression to our commitment to compassion and justice.
This is not news…it is the simple conduct of persistent work to address a deep fissure between police and community. As such work is pursued, individuals from all walks of life — the police, the city government, the monitors and all citizen -attend to the values, the perceptions, the good deeds and the failures of our common life.
While we weep, we continue to work…
Learn more about APD Forward.