OUR ARMS ARE RAISED …
The continuing assault on men of color has created a situation where the color of a person’s skin determines whether or not they have a right to live and exist as a human being. The “shoot first, ask questions later” mentality must end.
The Interfaith Peace Project stands with the people of Ferguson, Missouri. With them, we raise up our arms and chant, “Please, don’t shoot!” While we do not condone violence, we can understand the frustrations of so many who live in fear and oppression.
We cannot help but remember Oscar Grant, Tyrone Martin, Eric Garner, Ezell Ford, and now Michael Brown. How much more blood needs to be shed before we, as a people, confront the issue of violence that tears at the soul of our Nation?
As we confront the culture of violence infecting us, we must hold governmental and business leaders accountable for fostering an economic climate that breeds hopelessness in the minds and hearts of so many. Such policies have severely and negatively impacted people of color, especially men of color.
The culture of guns, voting restrictions aimed at minorities, and the on-going militarization of the police contributes to a sense that our streets are battle zones and minorities constitute the enemy.
Fair housing policies, economic policies based on justice and human dignity will only go so far. We must educate ourselves and our children that “minorities” are human beings in every sense of the word. We must recognize the historical realities of slavery, lynch mobs, and judicial injustice that permeate so much of American culture and society.
We hope the day is soon upon us when parents of color no longer need to warn their sons to be careful of the police. Police protection is a right every citizen should have in the pursuit of their lives. The police must not become a pawn in the hands of the powerful at the expense of those who do not enjoy the power born of wealth and privilege. Police must have the trust and support of the community to be true agents of protection and security. Community based policing will go a long way to ensure that citizens and police are not victims of violence.
For the moment, we pause to mourn with the hurting community of Ferguson, Missouri. They need to know of our love and concern as we call for calm and peace.
We call upon all to hear the words of Michael’s mother, “”That was my first-born son; I just wish I could’ve been there to help him.” We must be there to help one another now. We concur with Michael’s father who said, “We don’t want no violence. Michael would have wanted no violence. We need justice for our son.” We must work for that justice ensuring the human dignity of all.
Our prayers, sympathy and love to all those involved in this tragic situation.
Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P.
for The Interfaith Peace Project