THE TIME HAS COME
The anger, frustration, and demand for justice surging across the United States in the wake of the Freddie Gray incident is no less than a rallying call to confront racism in all its forms. It would be one thing if this was an isolated incident but it is not. Our Nation’s past is coming back to haunt us. No society can demean its people without suffering the consequences of its injustice. Young Black Men are not criminals because they are young Black Men. The protest marches represent the growing awareness in the United States to the scourge of racism and the violence created by poverty based on greed.
The Interfaith Peace Project calls upon all Interfaith Leaders to stand together demanding the reform of our criminal justice system. Police officers must be trained to understand the plight of so many in our inner cities. We call for a more forceful development of Community policing. Governmental leaders, especially the Congress, must address the issues of systemic poverty and chronic unemploy-ment.
Interfaith Leaders are motivated to become involved in this issue by virtue of their responsibility to speak out on the moral and ethical issues of our day. We are alarmed by the fact that many in our Nation question the human dignity of people of color, especially young Black Men.
Responding to Baltimore Sport’s commentator Brett Hollander’s objections to the protests, John Angelos, the COO of the Baltimore Orioles, wrote the following:
Brett, speaking only for myself, I agree with your point that the principle of peaceful, non-violent protest and the observance of the rule of law is of utmost importance in any society. MLK, Gandhi, Mandela and all great opposition leaders throughout history have always preached this precept. Further, it is critical that in any democracy, investigation must be completed and due process must be honored before any government or police members are judged responsible.
That said, my greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.
The innocent working families of all backgrounds whose lives and dreams have been cut short by excessive violence, surveillance, and other abuses of the Bill of Rights by government pay the true price, and ultimate price, and one that far exceeds the importances of any kids’ game played tonight, or ever, at Camden Yards. We need to keep in mind people are suffering and dying around the U.S., and while we are thankful no one was injured at Camden Yards, there is a far bigger picture for poor Americans in Baltimore and everywhere who don’t have jobs and are losing economic civil and legal rights, and this makes inconvenience at a ballgame irrelevant in light of the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans.
While violence is never an acceptable mode of behavior for solving problems, the frustration behind the violence must be addressed with sensitivity to the root causes of that violence. This is a difficult moment in our history as a Nation. Hopefully we will be better people living in a more just society as together we face what ails us.
Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P.
and the Board of Directors
The Interfaith Peace Project