The landscape of our nation has been marred by a senseless killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager one day before his entrance into trade school. It is predicted that the police officer who committed this heinous act who was placed on paid leave while the crime is being investigated, is poised to walk free and returned to the street in order to commit further crimes. We may be light years ahead in our technological savvy but prehistoric in our criminal justice system. Our system is not only archaic and broken but suffers from what the renowned Danish philosophical theologian, Soren Kierkegaard, calls a “sickness unto death.” My primary vocation is to proclaim the Gospel. My secondary task as a trained ethicist is to think critically about issues where social justice is at stake. My colleague Dr. Yolanda Pierce has written so vigorously about the consequences of a bankrupt theology and its implication for matters of justice. There is a pervasive and sick mentality among many conservative and neo-conservative whites who live with a dangerous paranoia that America is slowly being taken by outsiders. Black life is devalued and simultaneously feared as populations grapple for turf in our overcrowded urban cities.
America cannot live without us nor live with us. It is a fact that people of color receive harsher sentences for lesser crimes. That people of color are more frequently incarcerated for alleged crimes never committed. Recent revelations in the media point to the incarceration and execution of people of color due to errors with forensic evidence. I was admonished by a young rising prominent attorney to never go to court without a lawyer. The system is set in such a way that Judges do not respect anyone who enters court without an attorney. Our broken legal system is symbolic of ropes in the closet. Have you noticed that CNN made Mark O’Mara the attorney who represented George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case, a legal/political analyst? I felt nauseated watching O’Mara making statements about the Michael Brown debacle. Attorney Benjamin Crump who represented Trayvon Martin was given a pass. This is how violence against black life becomes indirectly sanctioned and institutionalized resulting in structural and systemic injustice. O’Mara was rewarded for defending a guilty George Zimmerman. The ropes remain in the closet.
The recent execution of Eric Garner by choking in NY by out of controlled cops, along with countless other senseless deaths is adequate testimony that it is easy as well as legal for bad cops to misuse their badge, weave a credible sounding story, as the media joins in to validate same. According to credible sources, Michael Brown was never seen in a fight. This corrupt out-of-control cop accused him of attempting to wrestle his gun. By the way, any cop who wrestles women to the ground and headlocks a teenager is a punk and should be removed immediately from law enforcement. I ask where is the Black Church and Black Leaders? Are we too busy majoring in the minors and minoring in the majors? God demands that our voices be heard on behalf of the voiceless until justice rings throughout this land. The Black Faith Communities should remain in the face of St. Louis until “Justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” Together we need to tell this nation, “NEVER AGAIN.”
Rev. Leonard Lovett, Ph.D. Ecumenical Officer, COGIC