There have been peaceful protests during the day and rioting and looting at night in response to the death of a Ferguson, Missouri teen, Mr. Mike Brown. While the details that led to his untimely death are unclear, the immediate response from the community and persons around the country due to the parties involved has been. Mr. Brown was shot by a police officer. His “race” is unknown and his name has not been released for fear of his personal safety. Still, some say that the “race” of the police officer and the victim does matter as it would point to a troubling history of police- involved shootings of unarmed African American males (This reality has been described as “BMW: Black Man Walking” by an NAACP leader.). While others feel that it is a matter of power and the abuse of it by those who are paid to “serve and protect.”
Mr. Brown died on Saturday, August 9 and while his autopsy has been completed, the findings of this examination have not been released. A friend, who claims to have been walking with Mr. Brown during the time of the altercation, has also not been interviewed by the local or federal authorities. Nevertheless, an attorney has been hired by the family of the late Mr. Brown. Benjamin Crump will provide legal counsel; he is the same lawyer employed by the parents of the late Mr. Trayvon Martin, a teenager who was also killed though unarmed.
Twitter has been abuzz and images of the Civil Rights Movement and its most notable leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. have been called upon to make sense of what is happening. Dr. King has been called upon as a contemporary commentator, quoted as saying, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” But, what we have not heard is the full account. We have not heard both sides of the story: the body of Mr. Brown will speak and the police officer who caused the death of Mr. Brown should also be allowed to defend his actions.
No charges have been brought yet a trial has ensued. The police officer has been presumed guilty and the crowd’s chant of “no justice; no peace” informs us of their verdict. It suggests that if their ruling is not upheld that there will be no peace in the streets. The father of Mr. Brown said recently in an interview, “If he doesn’t get justice, we won’t get peace.” These responses highlight the assumption of injustice in matters involving both the social construct of race and law enforcement. These persons feel bullied by law enforcement and the chant is an expression of their ability to become a bully. “Do what we want or else.”
However, as Christians, we serve Jesus Christ who is the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9.6). We live under God’s jurisdiction or at least we should. We do not have the privilege or the right to respond as our society does because we have submitted our will to God’s: “Your will be done” (Matthew 6.10). Consequently, I would question the allegiance of Christian leaders, whether to race or to God, who would justify this crime for a crime response.
We know Justice and we know Peace. Pray for all the persons involved and slide out of the Judge’s seat.