I am devastated by the news of the execution of two New York City police officers, Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, at the hands of Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who later was found dead of an apparent suicide. What are we doing? How did we get here? Why is this even a potential response to our concerns about police brutality?
Yes, I say, “we” because how have we talked about the issues surrounding the deaths of unarmed African American children and men? How have we defined justice if not “eye for an eye?” How many will we punish? How many buildings will have to burn? How many businesses will have to be impacted? How many people will have to die before we feel that justice has been served?
While persons are wondering what to tell “our boys,” I am wondering what message we are sending to all the children who are watching us as citizens, all wearing one uniform or another. We need to talk to each other before guns are drawn, before protest signs are needed. Before we pull anyone over, we should know their name and their story. Before our feet hit the pavement in protest, we should have been sitting in each other’s homes, businesses and places of worship. Instead of going back into our corners, back into our communities, back into the comfort of our stereotypes, we should have formed friendships, genuine cross- cultural relationships. Tomorrow is too late; we have to start right now.
We have to make this stop. It is not just about telling children to respect the law and follow orders. Because we have seen that even when they do, the results can still be deadly. Police don’t need better or more training; they need better relationships with the people that they feel called to serve. And the people need to know that these police officers are somebody’s boy too and when they are killed while just doing their job, what are we to tell their boy?
Lord, please, make it stop. Amen.