Somebody did the math. Every 28 hours, a black person is killed by a police officer or vigilante.
In Milwaukee, Sunday, Dec. 14, Unitarian Universalists are joining other people of faith at Red Arrow Park (where Dontre Hamilton was shot and killed by a police officer in April) for National Black Solidarity Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Sponsored by MICAH (Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope), the rally is one more way to affirm that Black Lives Matter.
[Post by Rev. Dena McPhetres, Associate Minister, First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee ]
Someone did the math. Every 28 hours, a black person is killed by a police officer or vigilante. And this violence against black people is nothing new. It’s been going on for centuries under some guise – slavery, lynchings, bombings, cross burnings, sterilization experiments. What is new, perhaps, in the wake of the non-indictment decisions from the grand juries in Ferguson and Staten Island, is the collective outrage, even among whites. White people are waking up to the daily reality of violence against people of color, especially black men.
Dontre Hamilton, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice. These are just the most recent and well-known names of black men (or in Tamir’s case – a child) killed by white police officers. This has got to stop! The excessive use of force by police, less kindly called police brutality, is fueled by fear and racism. Deaths on a systemic level like this cannot be chalked up to only reasons of self-defense. Police must be held accountable.
I recently watched the video of Eric Garner’s confrontation by police. Maybe you did, too. I felt sick to my stomach with anger and grief. And that is nothing compared to how his family feels. And all the families of victims of police violence.
Yet naming and expressing feelings is not enough. The system is broken. What can be done? Linda Sarsour, from the Arab-American Association in NYC said, “Injustice is supposed to make us angry. And that anger can be productive and translated into systemic change.”
Legislative action, federal investigations, body cameras on police, de-militarizing police, anti-racism training are all suggestions being made. What else can we do to change the system so that non-brutal police are valued and trusted, and police that act with excessive force are held accountable? I agree with Al Sharpton who said “we are not anti-police; we are anti-police-brutality.”
Saturday, Dec. 13, Unitarian Universalists are joining other people of faith in the National March Against Police Brutality in Washington, D.C. to express outrage and demand change.
In Milwaukee, Sunday, Dec. 14, Unitarian Universalists are joining other people of faith at Red Arrow Park (where Dontre Hamilton was shot and killed by a police officer in April) for National Black Solidarity Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Sponsored by MICAH, the rally is one more way to affirm that Black Lives Matter.
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
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First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee is a home for spiritual community, social justice, and intellectual freedom, active in Milwaukee for almost 175 years. Unitarian Universalism is an inclusive denomination, based on principles that create a community where diverse beliefs are respected and celebrated. These principles include recognition of the worth and dignity of every person; respect for the interdependent web of existence; and the goal of world peace, liberty and justice.
Rev. Dena McPhetres is the Associate Minister of the First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee. Previously, she served Unitarian Universalist congregations in Oregon, Minnesota, and New Hampshire. Born and raised in Minnesota, she received a B.A. in women’s studies from the University of Minnesota, and her Master of Divinity degree from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities.
For more UU congregations in Southeastern Wisconsin, visit SEWUUC, Southeast Wisconsin Unitarian Universalist Congregations, with links to nine congregations in the area.