Category : Urban/City Life and Issues

(NPR) 2 Louisville Police Officers Shot After Charges In Breonna Taylor Case Spark Protests

The chief said that under the tense circumstances following the indictment by the grand jury Wednesday, he is “very concerned for the safety of [his] officers.”

Hundreds of protesters swiftly began demonstrations calling for justice for Breonna Taylor after a grand jury decided to indict just one of the three Louisville Metropolitan Police officers who fired nearly two dozen bullets into her apartment, killing the 26-year-old during a no-knock raid.

City and state officials, who have been expecting a decision from the grand jury all week after months of outrage and anticipation, were braced for widespread protests, preemptively calling for reinforcements from the National Guard.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Urban/City Life and Issues

(CT) Atlanta’s Black Church

They say you can’t love what you don’t know, and lately, many of us are realizing just how much we don’t know. This year, my church in Augusta, Georgia, began exploring the racial history of our city, the location of one of the first and largest civil rights riots in the South. The details of the 1970 riot—chronicled in a recent Georgia Public Broadcasting podcast—resemble current events: a teen beaten to death in police custody, the black community responding with peaceful demands then rebellion, police using deadly force to suppress the uprising. But the parallels to the present aren’t striking if, like so many young people in our city, you had no idea it took place.

No wonder we feel so stuck in this racial justice fight. You can’t lament a past you don’t remember. You can’t change problems you don’t recognize. You can’t empathize with voices you ignore. Part of our call to love and serve our neighbors is to understand the lingering scars and burdens they bear.

Learning how my community downplayed the significance of its racial past made me all the more curious about the extensive civil rights legacy in the Georgia capital, the subject of this month’s cover package. Across the generations, Atlanta—with the black church as its heartbeat—has worked to honor its hard-won progress as well as to lament the cost of the ongoing fight for justice.

That practice has helped carry on a long legacy and inspire today’s leaders in Atlanta—the preachers and politicians, entrepreneurs and activists, who are working to see the principles of God’s kingdom shape every sphere of life.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NBC) Unique Program Helping To Save Vermont Restaurants And Feed The Community

Posted in City Government, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Poverty, The U.S. Government, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Local Paper) As holiday weekend approaches, Charleston-area restaurant workers fear what it might bring

By now, just about everyone in South Carolina is familiar with the graph charting the state’s new coronavirus cases. The trend line looks like a child’s drawing of a mountain cliff or a letter ‘L’ in repose, with a plateau followed by a sharp vertical flourish.

It also perfectly mirrors the fear and anxiety that food-and-beverage employees across downtown Charleston say they experience at work.

With positive tests for the coronavirus progressively thinning out local restaurant staffs, workers say they have less time to keep up with new sanitation protocols and more reason to worry about contracting the potentially deadly virus.

In interviews conducted over the past week by The Post and Courier, multiple employees at half a dozen leading Charleston restaurants have shared a remarkably similar story: They feel abandoned by public officials who championed reopening without restriction and endangered by patrons who mock their masks and flout social distancing rules.

Many front-of-house workers are so tired and stressed that they wish restaurants would revert to offering takeout exclusively, even if it would cost them tips.

“The restaurant industry feels unsafe,” says a former Leon’s Oyster Shop server who last month quit after learning co-workers who were exposed to the virus at a dinner party were still on the schedule.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Free Times) Columbia Fireflies won’t play in 2020 after minor league season canceled

Major League Baseball is working to begin its season in late July, with a plan to play without fans in the stands because of COVID-19. The Fireflies, along with the rest of the minor leagues, have been prevented from playing this year because of the coronavirus.

Katz, the Fireflies president who has worked in professional baseball for nearly three decades, tells Free Times the announcement that Major League Baseball wouldn’t be providing players for the minors, thus putting a nail in the coffin of the 2020 season in Columbia and 159 other cities, was a “gut punch.”

“Personally and professionally, for the 30 people who work here [full-time], it just hurts,” Katz says. “Our planning process never stops. We started planning for 2020 as soon as we closed the books on the last night of 2019.”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Economy, Health & Medicine, Sports, Urban/City Life and Issues

(ABC4) Charleston city council unanmiously votes to pass face mask ordinance

The City of Charleston voted unanimously on Thursday evening to enact a face mask ordinance.

In the ordinance, people must wear a face mask when entering any restaurant, retail store or any other building open to the public. Employees must also wear the face masks at all times.

People don’t have to wear a face mask if they have underlying health conditions, while driving in their cars, when participating in outdoor activities and while actively drinking or eating.

It will take effect on Friday at noon.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, City Government, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Urban/City Life and Issues

(The State) Columbia, South Carolina, now requires you to wear a mask to combat coronavirus. Here are the details

[Linda Bell]….told council members she was “alarmed and disheartened” at the number of people not wearing masks, particularly young adults.

While most teenagers and young adults are most resistant to becoming seriously ill from the virus, “you’re imposing that risk . . . on others.”

She added: “These measures from the local jurisdictions are badly needed.”

Under the new emergency ordinance, masks would be required for anyone:

▪ Inside a public building or waiting to enter a public building

▪ Interacting with someone within six feet in an outdoor space

▪ Engaged in business in a private space

▪ Using public or private transportation

▪ Walking in public where maintaining a six-foot distance from others may not be possible.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Urban/City Life and Issues

(WSJ) Escape to the Country: Why City Living Is Losing Its Appeal During the Pandemic

Confined to her Paris apartment with three young children, her husband and a dog during the city’s strict eight-week lockdown, Kate Gambey began fantasizing about something she never thought she would: a country house.

“I’m such a city girl,” said Ms. Gambey, an American married to a Frenchman. She made Paris her home nearly a decade ago but is now searching for a new home some 30 to 150 miles southwest of Paris.

“Right now it’s a question of how and where do we survive this best.”

In recent months, thousands of city dwellers have fled metropolises such as New York, Paris and London, moving in with family or into rentals to avoid crowds, be closer to nature or spend coronavirus lockdowns in more spacious quarters. While many have begun to return as restrictions have eased, others, like Ms. Gambey and her husband, Charles, are considering a permanent move.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Housing/Real Estate Market, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Local Paper) Charleston hits ‘critical’ coronavirus rate as mayor urges good hygiene, wearing masks

As Charleston reaches a “critical” rate of new coronavirus cases, Mayor John Tecklenburg urged city residents and business leaders on Tuesday to practice good hygiene and wear masks when interacting with others indoors.

Months ago, Tecklenburg said he feared Charleston would become a hot spot, similar to New York and other places in the Northeast. The city became the first in the state to establish stay-at-home restriction — with many other municipalities, and the state, later following suit. On Friday, Gov. Henry McMaster lifted one of the last statewide restrictions and allowed bowling alleys to reopen.

COVID-19 data shared at a news conference in Charleston City Council Chambers on Tuesday afternoon show things are heating up.

“We’re heading toward hot spot status unless we all take personal responsibility to help control the spread of this contagion and the virus until a real cure and a vaccine is available,” Tecklenburg said.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, City Government, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Local Paper) Racism. Violence. A slowly dying son. 5 years after the Emanuel massacre, echoes abound

For five years, they have mourned, then as now, as the country around them grappled with racism and violence.

Parents. Wives. Husbands. Sons. Daughters. They remain bound by the shared loss of nine worshippers at Emanuel AME Church when, on the sweltering night of June 17, 2015, an avowed white supremacist gunned down their loved ones.

For five years, the survivors and families of those who died have traversed uniquely uneven paths through immense grief. Many have found new meaning in different, inspiring ways.

The Post and Courier caught up with several to see how they are mourning against the backdrop of nationwide protests and the coronavirus pandemic — and where they hope America goes from here.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Local Paper front page) The Charleston Forum’s race relations survey reveals glaring inequality, a path forward

A survey commissioned to lead the Lowcountry forward five years after the massacre at Mother Emanuel AME shows a community eager to curb systemic racism, but divided on the current climate and next steps necessary to do so.

Respondents agree race should have no role in how people are treated by police, in school and in the community, but disagree on whether law enforcement officers racially profile people of color, how schools achieve goals and encourage success and whether symbols and monuments seen as racist should remain in place.

Leaders of The Charleston Forum hope the results will help drive their conversations with local leaders over the next year as they develop policy proposals aimed at equality and justice in the region. The survey was conducted before the weeks of protest following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis last month, but it details ongoing concerns in the community that in some ways parallel the issues raised by marchers.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, City Government, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NYT Op-ed) Issac Bailey–I’m Finally an Angry Black Man

You see, for a long time I was one of the “good blacks,” whom white friends and colleagues and associates and neighbors could turn to in order to be reassured that they weren’t racist, that America really had made a lot of racial progress since its founding, that I was an example of that progress because of the success I had attained after all I had faced and overcome.

For a long time, I wasn’t an angry black man even after growing up in an underfunded school that was still segregated four decades after Brown v. Board of Education in the heart of the Deep South.

I wasn’t angry even when I watched my oldest brother, my hero, be taken away in handcuffs for murdering a white man when I was a 9-year-old boy. He served 32 years, upending our family forever. Guilt is what I felt instead of anger. It’s akin to the guilt white liberals who go overboard in their efforts feel and are often guided by as they try to appease black people because of the racial harm they know black people have suffered since before this country’s founding.

Mine was a black guilt, a guilt stemming from the knowledge that my black brother had irreparably hurt a poor white family, guilt that helped persuade me to try to make it up to white people as best I could.

That’s why for a long time in my writings, I was more likely to focus on all the white people who didn’t yell “Nigger!” out their windows as they drove by as I jogged along Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach, S.C., instead of those who did. That’s why I spent nearly two decades in a mostly white evangelical church. That’s why I tried to thread the needle on the Confederate flag, speaking forthrightly about its origins, but carefully so as not to upset my white friends and colleagues who revered a symbol of the idea that black people should forever be enslaved by white people.

Still, for a long time, none of that turned me into an angry black man….

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(NYT) Amid a Pandemic, Black and Latino Churches Offer Prayer, Hope — and Testing

Ten days in May. Twenty-four churches around New York City. Nearly 20,000 coronavirus tests.

Over the past few weeks, churches serving communities of color have been transformed overnight into mini-clinics offering free coronavirus tests to all comers. The initiative, a partnership of the churches, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office and Northwell Health, is an effort to expand testing among black and Hispanic citizens, who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

Black and Latino New Yorkers have succumbed to Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, at twice the rate of whites, a result of entrenched economic and health disparities, denser housing and a higher risk of exposure on the job.

Participants were asked to preregister by phone, but walk-ins were accommodated so long as they lined up six feet apart and wore masks. Among those who sought testing on a cool, sunny Wednesday in May were two teenage brothers who recently went to a hospital to take home their 50-year-old father, only to find he had died of the virus.

“We were expecting him to be released and were texting with him,” said one brother, who identified himself only as Angel.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

Bp Mark Lawrence–Standing in the Breach

To stand in the breach, to kneel in the place prayer is to hold all of this in our hearts before God: the young marching in peaceful protest; a looter and burglar fleeing the scene of violence perpetrated by his companion in crime; and all the George Floyds and David Dorns of the world . It is not only to stand in the breach, it is to have one’s heart enlarged. In the words of Edwin Corley, intercession “… is the principle by which praying people allow their own spiritual hearts to become enlarged enough to take on [through prayer] the care of others.” To share in the compassion of Jesus Christ for this world where so many people are like sheep without shepherds. To ask God’s Spirit to address our own “…feelings that have become calloused and remote for most of the people around [us].” May God work in us a deep feeling of love and compassion for His people. So we lift up those suffering from the Covid-19; those working for a vaccine and cure; those burying their loved ones either from the pandemic, the street violence or the normal stuff of life; for those who have lost their business and jobs from quarantine or fire, rioting and looting; for those who continue to suffer the weight of racial injustice; for police officers who risk their lives in their daily round of duty; and those for whom the killing of George Floyd makes the world feel less safe. That may sound almost like a litany. It is—or at least a prayer list. We pray for the light of Christ to come into our darkened world, and after this week of prayer and fasting to show each of us what the next step is, so we might fulfill the promise of our Lord. “You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(CEN) Bishops take the knee

Bishops across the country led Anglicans in ‘taking the knee’ to mark the death of American George Floyd and to highlight injustice in British society.

The Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Rev Martyn Snow, led others in kneeling for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the length of time that a US police officer knelt on Mr Floyd’s neck.

Bishop Snow said: “I am deeply shocked by the appalling brutality we have seen against black people in America and I stand alongside those who are suffering and peacefully calling for urgent change, as well as committing to make changes in our own lives and the institutions we are part of.

“Structural and systemic racial prejudice exists across societies and institutions and we must act to change that, as well as addressing our own unconscious biases that lead us to discriminate against others.” Earlier this year he led the General Synod in a vote to apologise for racism in the Church.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(NPR) ‘Breathe, Pray, Meditate’: Born From Resistance, Black Churches Now Leading In Crises

As her church distributed masks and hand sanitizer as it does each Friday, the Rev. Traci Blackmon said that black churches “have always been on the bottom rung ladder of all of this.”

“We’ve always had to figure out how to take care of our community, to take care of our neighborhoods and take care of our seniors, even when the economy is booming,” said Blackmon, associate general minister of justice at the United Church of Christ, who leads a church in Florissant, Mo. “So in some ways, we’re ahead of the game with this, because we know how to survive with less, because we’ve always had to survive.”

She said that “the way we are accustomed to being governed in this country is being challenged in ways that it has not been challenged in recent history before.”

“So I think it is all erupting and that makes this moment very different because we are in this moment partly created by a lack of leadership,” she added. “And now we have to navigate this moment without leadership.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(The Week) Damon Linker–Don’t willfully ignore the complexity of what’s happening in America right now

The very least we can do is make a concerted effort to legitimize the pain and anger of African Americans, while defending the constitutionally protected right to protest. But this must also be paired with an unconditional condemnation of looting, stealing, smashing, burning, and destroying lives and property — none of which is protest, and all of which will succeed only in further rending the social fabric while giving would-be authoritarians pretext to crack down in the name of the public good.

If that much proves impossible for us to manage, we will have failed. And in that failure, we will have demonstrated before the world that we did all of this to ourselves.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Bishop Mark Lawrence offers some Thoughts on our Current Cultural Moment of National Unrest–Groanings too Deep for Words

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Economist) The grim racial inequalities behind America’s protests

According to the Census Bureau, African-Americans earn barely three-fifths as much as non-Hispanic whites. In 2018 average black household income was $41,400, compared with $70,600 for whites. That gap is wide. In Britain, where race relations can also be tense, blacks earn 90% as much as whites. The American gap is narrower than it was in 1970, when African-Americans earned only half as much as whites. But all the improvement happened between 1970 and 2000, and since then things have worsened again. The black income gap has been eased somewhat by post-covid federal spending increases. But it may soon yawn wider because African-Americans have many of the low- or unskilled jobs that could be most vulnerable to a coronavirus recession.

Income numbers understate the real economic disparities because they only describe people who are in work. According to a study by Patrick Bayer of Duke University and Kerwin Charles of the University of Chicago, a stunning 35% of young black men are unemployed or out of the workforce altogether, twice the share of whites. This huge number seems to be connected with the high incarceration rates of African-Americans: besides those in jail, many have given up looking for work because employers will not offer jobs to former felons. Hence the judicial disparities at the heart of the protests over Mr Floyd also reinforce income and job inequalities.

The wealth gap between blacks and whites is even wider than the income gap.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Economy, History, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Ed Stetzer’s The Exchange) Race, Gospel, and Justice: An Interview with Esau McCaulley in 4 Parts

We have all been stirred by the events surrounding the death of George Floyd as well as the protests happening across the country. I wrote, “George Floyd, a Central Park 911 Call, and All the Places Without Cameras,” last week. Over the weekend, I invited John Richards to write a guest post, “Letter From a Quarantined Home: Expressing Disappointment with Some of My White Brothers and Sisters in Christ.”
To better understand the reaction to his death, to think about how we can respond as believers to the protests, and to consdider how we should address looting and riots, I interviewed my colleague and friend Esau McCaulley. The following multi-part series will walk us through that important interview. You can listen to that interview on my Moody Radio show, Ed Stetzer Live, right here. Or, we will post the interview in several parts here.

Read it all (and make sure to catch all 4 parts).

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Economist) The violence in American cities reflects the fury of polarisation

The Republican politicisation of protests has continued to the present. Donald Trump’s rise in 2016 has been linked to his continuing campaign against immigration across the southern border, but many of his supporters may have had the Ferguson and Baltimore riots of the mid-2010s in the back of their mind. It is no empty generalisation to say that Republicans rely on whites—and Democrats, non-whites—for their electoral successes; according to a study published by the Pew Research Centre on June 2nd, 81% of Republican voters are white, whereas only 59% of Democrats are. Offered a choice between Joe Biden and Mr Trump, African-Americans pick the Democrats’ presidential candidate nearly 90% of the time, according to The Economist’s latest polling data from YouGov.

The Republican Party’s increasing whiteness over the years has made it less amenable to making progress on racial justice. Although white voters generally agree with African-Americans’ grievances on police brutality, they focus on the violence and looting in the ensuing protests rather than on the broader social context. A majority of both whites and Republicans told YouGov that they thought race was a major or minor cause of George Floyd’s death, for example. But most also said that the protests were the result of black Americans’ “long-standing bias against the police” rather than “a genuine desire to hold police officers accountable”.

White Democrats, on the other hand, have moved to the left on racial issues, a product of political polarisation and “partisan sorting”. As Democratic elites adopted the ideas of African-American activists, so did the liberal whites who remained in the party. This has also changed the portrait of the average protester. Black Americans protesting against police violence are now joined by whites and Hispanics, the young and the old. Demonstrating against police brutality has become political and ideological, not just racial.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Archbishop Foley Beach Calls for a Week of Prayer and Fasting for the USA starting today

Consider what we have experienced in recent days and weeks:

  • Another senseless killing by a police officer of an unarmed black man, George Floyd.
  • Hundreds of thousands of people participating in peaceful protests.
  • The unleashing of a spirit of lawlessness where rioting, violence, destruction of businesses and properties (mostly minority owned), unbridled theft, personal assaults on bystanders, store owners, the elderly, and police officers.
  • Covid-19 closing whole countries down, reportedly killing over 100,000 people in the U.S., over 7,000 in Canada, and over 10,000 in Mexico, and creating an economic calamity with tens of millions of people unemployed across North America.
  • Numerous businesses and churches have had to close down and many will not reopen.
  • Incredible generosity of strangers helping strangers in the midst of calamity.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(CT) George Floyd Left a Gospel Legacy in Houston

Ngwolo and fellow leaders met Floyd in 2010. He was a towering 6-foot-6 guest who showed up at a benefit concert they put on for the Third Ward. From the start, Big Floyd made his priorities clear.

“He said, ‘I love what you’re doing. The neighborhood need it, the community need it, and if y’all about God’s business, then that’s my business,’” said Corey Paul Davis, a Christian hip-hop artist who attended Resurrection Houston. “He said, ‘Whatever y’all need, wherever y’all need to go, tell ’em Floyd said y’all good. I got y’all.’”

The church expanded its involvement in the area, holding Bible studies and helping out with groceries and rides to doctor’s appointments. Floyd didn’t just provide access and protection; he lent a helping hand as the church put on services, three-on-three basketball tournaments, barbecues, and community baptisms.

“He helped push the baptism tub over, understanding that people were going to make a decision of faith and get baptized right there in the middle of the projects. He thought that was amazing,” said Ronnie Lillard, who performs under the name Reconcile. “The things that he would say to young men always referenced that God trumps street culture. I think he wanted to see young men put guns down and have Jesus instead of the streets.”

Read it all.

Posted in Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

A statement from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in response to events in the United States of America

From there:

“Recent events in the United States of America have once again drawn public attention to the ongoing evil of white supremacy. Systemic racism continues to cause incalculable harm across the world. Our hearts weep for the suffering caused – for those who have lost their lives, those who have experienced persecution, those who live in fear. God’s justice and love for all creation demands that this evil is properly confronted and tackled. Let us be clear: racism is an affront to God. It is born out of ignorance, and must be eradicated. We all bear the responsibility and must play our part to eliminate this scourge on humanity.

“As Dr Martin Luther King Jr said, ‘In a real sense, we are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Therefore, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’

“We pray that God’s abounding wisdom, compassion and love will guide leaders across the world to forge a better society.”

Posted in --Justin Welby, America/U.S.A., Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(New Yorker) Bryan Stevenson on the Frustration Behind the George Floyd Protests

How do you think our current era of criminal justice and policing is a continuation of that past?

I think the police have been the face of oppression in many ways. Even before the Civil War, law enforcement was complicit in sustaining enslavement. It was the police who were tasked with tracking down fugitive slaves from 1850 onwards in the north. After emancipation, it was law enforcement that stepped back and allowed black communities to be terrorized and victimized. We had an overthrow of government during Reconstruction, and law enforcement facilitated that. Then, throughout the first half of the twentieth century, it was law enforcement and police and our justice system that allowed people to be lynched by white mobs, sometimes literally on the courthouse lawn, and allowed the perpetrators of that terror and violence to engage in these acts of murder with impunity. They were even complicit in it. And, as courageous black people began to advocate for civil rights in the nineteen-fifties and nineteen-sixties, when these older, nonviolent black Americans would literally be on their knees, praying, they were battered and bloodied by uniformed police officers. That identity of violence and oppression is not something we can ignore. We have to address it. But, rather than address it, since the nineteen-sixties, we have been trying to distract ourselves from it and not acknowledge it, and not own up to it, and all of our efforts have been compromised by this refusal to recognize that we need to radically change the culture of police.

Now, the police are an extension of our larger society, and, when we try to disconnect them from the justice system and the lawmakers and the policymakers, we don’t accurately get at it. The history of this country, when it comes to racial justice and social justice, unlike what we do in other areas, is, like, O.K., it’s 1865, we won’t enslave you and traffic you anymore, and they were forced to make that agreement. And then, after a half century of mob lynching, it’s, like, O.K., we won’t allow the mobs to pull you out of the jail and lynch you anymore. And that came after pressure. And then it was, O.K., we won’t legally block you from voting, and legally prevent you from going into restaurants and public accommodations.

But at no point was there an acknowledgement that we were wrong and we are sorry. It was always compelled, by the Union Army, by international pressure, by the federal courts, and that dynamic has meant that there is no more remorse or regret or consciousness of wrongdoing. The police don’t think they did anything wrong over the past fifty or sixty years. And so, in that respect, we have created a culture that allows our police departments to see themselves as agents of control, and that culture has to shift. And this goes beyond the dynamics of race. We have created a culture where police officers think of themselves as warriors, not guardians.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(NYT) Will Protests Set Off a Second Viral Wave?

Mass protests against police brutality that have brought thousands of people out of their homes and onto the streets in cities across America are raising the specter of new coronavirus outbreaks, prompting political leaders, physicians and public health experts to warn that the crowds could cause a surge in cases.

While many political leaders affirmed the right of protesters to express themselves, they urged the demonstrators to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, both to protect themselves and to prevent further community spread of the virus.

More than 100,000 Americans have already died of Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. People of color have been particularly hard hit, with rates of hospitalizations and deaths among black Americans far exceeding those of whites.

The protests in dozens of cities have been spurred most recently by the death last week of George Floyd at the hands of the police in Minneapolis. But the unrest and outrage spilling out into the streets from one city to the next also reflects the dual, cumulative tensions arising from decades of killings by police and the sudden losses of family and friends from the virus.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Local Paper Front Page) Daylight reveals path of destruction in Charleston from looting, vandalism after protests

Brooms and dustpans replaced rocks and spray paint Sunday as an army of volunteers descended on Charleston to clean up the demoralizing mess left by an angry mob that smashed, burned and pillaged much of the city’s central business district.

But even as they set about their work, new pressure points sprouted from the city’s iconic Battery seawall to the capital of Columbia, where law enforcement officers fired tear gas at protesters advancing on that city’s police headquarters. They represented the latest flash points in a week of tension and violence that has roiled the nation over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police.

Charleston officials asked for help from the National Guard and imposed a strict 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew in an effort to keep demonstrations from turning ugly as they did Saturday night, when tear gas, flames and gunshots filled the air.

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Posted in * South Carolina, City Government, Economy, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Today’s Washington Post Front Page–a Good Morning to Pray for America

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Spirituality/Prayer, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(CT) Dennis Edwards–The Revolution Will Not Be Videoed: What Paul and Silas might have said about George Floyd and…

For years, black and brown people have been doing the same as Paul in calling out injustice. The apostle Paul’s demands to the magistrates foreshadows Mamie Till’s bold move to have the body of her lynched son, Emmett, open for viewing. She wanted America to see what was allowed to happen to her son. White Christians have blamed victims of violence, waiting for some dirt on the victim to be dug up. White Christians have minimized the actions of the perpetrators by imagining there must be “another side to the story.” Perhaps even worse is the relegation of injustice to the actions of a few bad characters rather than the failings of an entire system and a worldview that vilifies non-whiteness.

The Revolution Is Really About Love

In that Acts 16 story, the magistrates apologize. They also ask Paul and Silas to leave the city. But before the apostles leave, they meet with the newly forming Christian community in Lydia’s house to encourage and admonish them. Surely this church, which now included a jailer, understood how power worked in Philippi and began their own revolution. Judging from what Paul wrote to that church sometime later (from prison!) they were to learn that the revolution means being like Jesus, considering others as more important than yourself (Phil. 2:3–4). The revolution means laying aside privilege in service to others (Phil. 2:5–11). Perhaps white Christian America can be motivated by that.

It is possible to be, like Jesus, angry at injustice while demonstrating and calling for love. In the many times over the years that I’ve been asked to speak about racial injustice, people expect me to end the message with hope. For some reason, those most vulnerable to oppression are the same ones who are supposed to give white people hope. Yet I do think about what moving forward means, especially since my wife and I have adult children and three grandsons. We think about a revolution for them. A revolution of love.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Some Acna Bps on the Minneapolis Tragedy–“What happened to George [Floyd] is an affront to God because his status as an image-bearer was not respected”

What happened to George is an affront to God because his status as an image-bearer was not respected. He was treated in a way that denied his basic humanity. Our lament is real. But our lament is not limited to George and his family. We mourn alongside the wider Black community for whom this tragedy awakens memories of their own traumas and the larger history of systemic oppression that still plagues this country.

George’s death is not merely the most recent evidence that proves racism exists against Black people in this country. But it is a vivid manifestation of the ongoing devaluation of black life. At the root of all racism is a heretical anthropology that devalues the Imago Dei in us all. The gospel reveals that all are equally created, sinful, and equally in the need of the saving work of Christ. The racism we lament is not just interpersonal. It exists in the implicit and explicit customs and attitudes that do disproportionate harm to ethnic minorities in the country. In other words, too often racial bias has been combined with political power to create inequalities that still need to be eradicated.

As bishops in the ACNA, we commit ourselves to stand alongside those in the Black community as they contend for a just society, not as some attempt to transform America into the kingdom of God, but as a manifestation of neighborly love and bearing one another’s burdens and so fulfilling the law of Christ. We confess that too often ethnic minorities have felt like contending for biblical justice has been a burden that they bear alone.

In the end, our hope is not in our efforts but in the shed blood of Jesus that reconciles God to humanity and humans to each other. Our hope is that our churches become places where the power of the gospel to bring together the nations of the earth (Rev 7:9) is seen in our life together as disciples.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anthropology, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence