Category : Police/Fire

Kendall Harmon for 9/11: Number 343

On [a] Monday [in September 2003], the last of the 343 firefighters who died on September 11th was buried. Because no remains of Michael Ragusa, age 29, of Engine Company 279, were found and identified, his family placed in his coffin a very small vial of his blood, donated years ago to a bone-marrow clinic. At the funeral service Michael’s mother Dee read an excerpt from her son’s diary on the occasion of the death of a colleague. “It is always sad and tragic when a fellow firefighter dies,” Michael Ragusa wrote, “especially when he is young and had everything to live for.” Indeed. And what a sobering reminder of how many died and the awful circumstances in which they perished that it took until this week to bury the last one.

So here is to the clergy, the ministers, rabbis, imams and others, who have done all these burials and sought to help all these grieving families. And here is to the families who lost loved ones and had to cope with burials in which sometimes they didn’t even have remains of the one who died. And here, too, is to the remarkable ministry of the Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, who played every single service for all 343 firefighters who lost their lives. The Society chose not to end any service at which they played with an up-tempo march until the last firefighter was buried.

On Monday, in Bergen Beach, Brooklyn, the Society therefore played “Garry Owen” and “Atholl Highlander,” for the first time since 9/11 as the last firefighter killed on that day was laid in the earth. On the two year anniversary here is to New York, wounded and more sober, but ever hopeful and still marching.

–First published on this blog September 11, 2003

Posted in * By Kendall, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Police/Fire, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NBCU) Kidnapped 6-year-old girl rescued with help from neighbors, police

“Neighbors immediately called 911 after a 6-year-old girl was kidnapped while outside with her bike in Louisville, Kentucky. Police officers quickly located the car to rescue the little girl.”

Watch it all.

Posted in Children, Marriage & Family, Police/Fire, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NYT Magazine) I Write About the Law. But Could I Really Help Free a Prisoner?

During law school, I took a class on capital punishment and learned that many wrongful convictions had something in common: a mistaken eyewitness ID. I read the work of Elizabeth Loftus, the psychologist whose research helped establish the limitations of human memory. The basic problem is that people often aren’t good at remembering the specific features of faces they’ve seen only once; they’re more likely to recall a general trait, like eye color or a mustache, that many people share. But if eyewitness testimony is fallible, Loftus explained, it is also potent. “There is almost nothing more convincing than a live human being who takes the stand, points a finger at the defendant and says, ‘That’s the one!’” she wrote in her 1979 book, “Eyewitness Testimony.”

Since 1989, mistaken IDs have factored into nearly 30 percent of about 2,800 convictions of innocent people tracked by the National Registry of Exonerations. And yet the legal system depends on them because the testimony of an eyewitness may be the only piece of direct evidence. Though no comprehensive data exists, one old but often-cited survey from 1989 suggests that eyewitness testimony is most likely used to solve at least 80,000 crimes each year.

The upshot is that eyewitness identification “presents the legal system with a challenge unlike any other,” Judge Jed S. Rakoff of the federal District Court in Manhattan writes in his recent book, “Why the Innocent Plead Guilty and the Guilty Go Free.” “Modern science suggests that much of such testimony is inherently suspect — but not in ways that jurors can readily evaluate from their own experience.”

As I became absorbed by Briley’s case, I wanted to understand more about the science of memory. What did the research suggest about the reliability of the identification Joseph made? Eyewitnesses like him often have the best intentions. Nonetheless, I learned, their error rate increases when more time lapses between the initial viewing of a person and the retrieving of that memory to make an identification. Cross-racial IDs become even weaker with the passage of time. The circumstances of a street crime itself can also affect accuracy. Victims and witnesses may have only a brief chance to view the perpetrator, and making an identification becomes harder with dim lighting, stress, fear and the distracting presence of a weapon. One study showed a “catastrophic decline” in accuracy — dropping as low as 18 percent — depending on a witness’s level of anxiety.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Psychology, Race/Race Relations

([London] Times) Digby the dog saves woman from brink of bridge

So when reports came in on Tuesday of a vulnerable woman on a motorway bridge in Devon, a firefighter had the bright idea to take him along.

A team of trained police officers was on site trying to provide support to the woman and help her return to safety, but it was Digby who ultimately got her out of harm’s way.

“Today [Digby] did something amazing and helped save a young woman who was thinking of taking her own life on a bridge over the M5 near Exeter,” said a spokesman for Devon and Somerset fire service.

“We were at the incident as part of a multi-agency response. Police negotiators were speaking with the woman but the situation was becoming increasingly worrying. One of the fire crew had the idea to bring along Digby, our ‘defusing’ dog. Digby helps crews who have been exposed to trauma during talking therapy ‘defusing’ sessions.”

The spokesman added: “When Digby arrived, the young woman immediately swung her head round to look, and smiled.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Animals, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Police/Fire, Psychology

(ES) Grenfell tragedy a ‘story of careless decisions,’ says bishop Graham Tomlin

The bishop recalled his memories of the day of the fire, when there was “confusion, anxiety and fear, trying to bring a sense of comfort and hope, all the time trying to process how something like this fire could happen in a sophisticated, supposedly safe city like London in the 21st century”.

During his sermon, Dr Tomlin described the story as “not a happy one”.

He said: “It’s a story of careless decisions, of regulations ignored, of an industry that seemed at times more interested in making profits or selling products than keeping people safe. And of course, the whole process is taking longer than many of us would have hoped.

“And still across the country, thousands of people are living in flats with unsafe cladding or other safety defects, unable to sell their properties and yet facing the costs of waking watches, huge insurance bills, rising service charges, and so far no obvious answer as to who’s going to pay for the mistakes that were made in the construction of their homes.”

The bishop said there was “an urgency about justice and healing” and that justice too long delayed is justice denied.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(KC Star front page) ‘An execution’: Kansas City faith group says video shows March 25 police shooting

A group of faith leaders in Kansas City held a news conference Tuesday announcing they have video of the fatal police shooting of Malcolm Johnson earlier this year.

Johnson, 31, was killed March 25 during a confrontation with Kansas City police officers at a gas station near East 63rd Street and Prospect Avenue, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

On Tuesday, the group of ministers gathered outside the gas station and said they had obtained video of the shooting and were releasing it to news media. The video they released did not show the shooting itself, but the faith leaders said it, and other facts surrounding the shooting, showed the initial account given by the highway patrol was not accurate.

“What I saw was an execution,” said the Rev. Darron Edwards, a leader with Getting to the Heart of the Matter, a group of local faith leaders who have been cooperating with the Kansas City Police Department.

“Regardless of the sound quality and the video not showing the actual shots, it is clear that the report does not match the video,” said the Rev. Emanuel Cleaver III. “We are demanding justice.”

Read it all.

Posted in City Government, Death / Burial / Funerals, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

A Good BBC Report on Race and Policing in Saint Louis County, Missouri

Watch it all and note the role of faith all the way though; I especially love the policewoman’s reference to daily prayer; KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations

(Premium Times) Nigerian Anglican Archbishop Isaac Nwobia calls for national dialogue to address issues of insecurity throughout the country

An Anglican Archbishop, Isaac Nwobia, has urged the federal government to convene a national dialogue to address issues of insecurity in the country

Mr Nwobia, who is the Archbishop/Bishop of Diocese of Isiala Ngwa South (Aba Province), made the call during the 4th Synod of the diocese at St. Peter’s Cathedral Owerrinta, Abia State on Thursday.

The archbishop, while speaking with reporters during the opening session of the Synod, said that national dialogue was important, as the communication gap could be responsible for some of the present security challenges in Nigeria.

“The president should summon us, either as a meeting or a confab, so that people can say why they are annoyed.

“The solution should be that we need to sit down, dialogue and sort things out,” he said.

The cleric condemned the destruction of some of the nation’s security facilities.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Nigeria, Law & Legal Issues, Military / Armed Forces, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(Reuters) “Nation is on fire”: Nigerian lawmakers demand action on security crisis

Nigeria’s parliament called on the presidency, armed forces and police to address the country’s mounting security crisis on Tuesday, with the lower house urging President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency.

The resolutions come as a wave of violence and lawlessness sweeps across Africa’s largest economy. Security forces, including the military deployed across most of Nigeria’s states, have shown little ability to stem the tide.

“The president should immediately declare a state of emergency on security so as to fast track all measures to ensure the restoration of peace in the country,” said a resolution passed by the lower house.

In the northwest, gunmen have kidnapped more than 700 schoolchildren since December, as militants pillage communities in the region.

Read it all.

Posted in Military / Armed Forces, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Terrorism

(NYT) Nigeria’s Boarding Schools Have Become a Hunting Ground for Kidnappers

When nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped from their boarding school by the Islamist group Boko Haram in 2014, the world exploded in outrage. Hundreds marched in the country’s capital, the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls was picked up by then First Lady Michelle Obama and Nigeria’s president scrambled to respond to the mass abduction in the village of Chibok.

It seemed an aberration. But since last December, mass kidnappings of girls and boys at boarding schools in northwest Nigeria have been happening more and more frequently — at least one every three weeks. Just last Friday, more than 300 girls were taken from their school in Zamfara state. They were released this week, the governor of the state announced early Tuesday. The week before, more than 40 children and adults were abducted from a boarding school in Niger state. They were freed on Saturday.

With Nigeria’s economy in crisis, kidnapping has become a growth industry, according to interviews with security analysts and a recent report on the economics of abductions. The victims are now not just the rich, powerful or famous, but also the poor — and increasingly, school children who are rounded up en masse.

The perpetrators are often gangs of bandits, who are taking advantage of a dearth of effective policing and the easy availability of guns.

Read it all.

Posted in Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Teens / Youth

A Thursday Morning Encouragement story about 2 American Heroes–(NBC) Louisiana Sanitation Workers Rescue Kidnapped 10-Year-Old Girl

“Dion Merrick and Brandon Antoine recognized a car from an Amber Alert and took quick action — calling police and blocking the vehicle with their truck — to rescue a 10-year-old girl who had been kidnapped.”

Watch it all.

Posted in * General Interest, America/U.S.A., Children, Police/Fire

(Local Paper) Police, doctors warn South Carolina lawmakers against passing ‘open carry with training’ gun bill

Charleston’s police chief warned South Carolina lawmakers a proposal to let trained gun owners carry their weapons openly could endanger public safety and make the jobs of law enforcement officers more difficult.

Chief Luther Reynolds was one of dozens of South Carolinians who testified Feb. 10 in opposition to the bill, joining several doctors and self-identified gun owners who said they fear the bill could lead to more violence and anxiety on the streets.

The opponents outnumbered the six supporters who testified in favor of the measure by saying they believe the training aspect will ensure guns are handled responsibly and noting that South Carolina is one of only five states that does not have any form of open carry law on the books.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Police/Fire, Politics in General, State Government, Violence

Today in History–5 year old John Wesley rescued

Posted in Children, Church History, Police/Fire

(Wired) A website called Faces of the Riot Published Every Face From Parler’s Capitol Riot Videos

When hackers exploited a bug in Parler to download all of the right-wing social media platform’s contents last week, they were surprised to find that many of the pictures and videos contained geolocation metadata revealing exactly how many of the site’s users had taken part in the invasion of the US Capitol building just days before. But the videos uploaded to Parler also contain an equally sensitive bounty of data sitting in plain sight: thousands of images of unmasked faces, many of whom participated in the Capitol riot. Now one website has done the work of cataloging and publishing every one of those faces in a single, easy-to-browse lineup.

Late last week, a website called Faces of the Riot appeared online, showing nothing but a vast grid of more than 6,000 images of faces, each one tagged only with a string of characters associated with the Parler video in which it appeared. The site’s creator tells WIRED that he used simple open source machine learning and facial recognition software to detect, extract, and deduplicate every face from the 827 videos that were posted to Parler from inside and outside the Capitol building on January 6, the day when radicalized Trump supporters stormed the building in a riot that resulted in five people’s deaths. The creator of Faces of the Riot says his goal is to allow anyone to easily sort through the faces pulled from those videos to identify someone they may know or recognize who took part in the mob, or even to reference the collected faces against FBI wanted posters and send a tip to law enforcement if they spot someone.

“Everybody who is participating in this violence, what really amounts to an insurrection, should be held accountable,” says the site’s creator, who asked for anonymity to avoid retaliation. “It’s entirely possible that a lot of people who were on this website now will face real-life consequences for their actions.”

Read it all.

Posted in Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Science & Technology

(Local Paper) South Carolina human trafficking annual report released

The South Carolina Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Task Force released new numbers from 2020 showing the scourge is not going away and COVID-19 has only made things worse, as traffickers prey on the most vulnerable.

Traffickers look for vulnerabilities and exploit them. Fresh data from the report on how victims become ensnared by traffickers shows most of the time it starts with an ad for a job. Other times the trafficker is familiar with the victim– an intimate partner or the victim becomes indebted by receiving a loan. Soon the victim is coerced, manipulated and trapped.

“It presents a public health and a public safety issue that violates basic human rights,” said Attorney General Alan Wilson at a press conference from the Statehouse on Jan. 11.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Sexuality, Violence

(NYT front page) Hope Dries Up as Young Nigerians Disappear in Police Custody

AWKA, Nigeria — In the small family portrait gallery hanging above the television in the cozy home of the Iloanya family, only two framed photographs remain that include the youngest son, Chijioke.

He disappeared eight years ago. His parents, Hope and Emmanuel, last saw him in handcuffs in a police station run by the feared unit known as SARS — the Special Anti-Robbery Squad.

They have been searching for him ever since, along the way encountering an industry of merchants peddling hope: lawyers, human rights groups and the churches and pastors who asked for the photographs of Chijioke, promising to pray over them and help bring him back.

“They give you a prophecy that he will come back,” said Hope, a devout woman of 53, staring at the gaps on her salmon-pink wall. “Whatever they tell you to do, you do it.”

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Nigeria, Personal Finance & Investing, Police/Fire, Politics in General

(ITV) Police apologise to minister after shutting down legal church service in Milton Keynes

Police have apologised to a church minister after officers interrupted a lawful service in Milton Keynes and told him he would be prosecuted for breaking Covid regulations.

Pastor Daniel Mateola normally preaches to a full church, but since communal worship is banned under Covid rules, his congregation gets support from online worship instead.

Services are filmed professionally and streamed online, but last Friday worship was interrupted by the police who said there were too many people present.

To avoid confrontation, the church sent their five musicians home but police said the film crew was too big and called seven more officers as back up.

Pastor Daniel said: “It was very challenging, very intimidating, at one point a little bit scary too. At one point I was thinking, what’s going on here?

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture

(W Post) Nigerian protesters say security forces fired on them, fueling global outrage

Global outrage mounted Wednesday after security forces in Africa’s largest city opened fire into a crowd of protesters, deepening unrest spurred by anger at Nigerian police.

Ten people died and dozens were wounded after uniformed men took aim at demonstrators the night before at a Lagos toll gate plaza, Amnesty International said, a clash captured from multiple angles on social media.

The violence followed two weeks of largely peaceful demonstrations that prompted Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to dissolve the undercover police unit at the center of the dispute and that critics have long blasted as abusive.

But hundreds returned to the streets Wednesday — despite a 24-hour curfew enforced by riot officers — and thousands more joined solidarity marches in other countries, saying past attempts at ending police brutality in Nigeria had fallen short. Protesters in Lagos, a metropolis of approximately 20 million, said they would not stop until wrongdoers in law enforcement are brought to justice.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Violence

(NYT) The Police Can Probably Break Into Your Phone

In a new Apple ad, a man on a city bus announces he has just shopped for divorce lawyers. Then a woman recites her credit card number through a megaphone in a park. “Some things shouldn’t be shared,” the ad says, “iPhone helps keep it that way.”

Apple has built complex encryption into iPhones and made the devices’ security central to its marketing pitch.

That, in turn, has angered law enforcement. Officials from the F.B.I. director to rural sheriffs have argued that encrypted phones stifle their work to catch and convict dangerous criminals. They have tried to force Apple and Google to unlock suspects’ phones, but the companies say they can’t. In response, the authorities have put their own marketing spin on the problem. Law enforcement, they say, is “going dark.”

Yet new data reveals a twist to the encryption debate that undercuts both sides: Law enforcement officials across the nation regularly break into encrypted smartphones.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Science & Technology

(WSJ) Nigerian Protesters Shut Down Africa’s Largest City, Escalating Standoff With Government

Tens of thousands of protesters brought the largest city in Africa to a standstill on Monday, mounting the biggest demonstration in a two-week campaign against police brutality and escalating a standoff with a government that has pledged to restore order.

Groups of placard-waving protesters blocked major roads across Lagos, Nigeria’s sprawling commercial capital and home to an estimated 20 million people. The city’s Ibadan expressway, the country’s busiest road, was blocked by groups chanting: “We want change.” Protesters closed off the city’s airport and stormed the terminal. In a city infamous for hourslong traffic jams, columns of Lagos residents could be seen walking along emptied streets and causeways.

The Lagos protests were the largest of a series of demonstrations on Monday across the West African nation of 206 million people that appeared to significantly raise the temperature between demonstrators and the government.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Politics in General

(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

Must not Miss 9/11 Video: Welles Crowther, The Man Behind the Red Bandana

The Man Behind the Red Bandana from Drew Gallagher on Vimeo.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Marriage & Family, Police/Fire, Sports, Terrorism

(Unherd) Justin Webb–Is The American Left looking increasingly extreme?

If you are searching for a view of the intellectual and moral slack the American far-Left is cutting itself, look no further than gentle old National Public Radio. More than a decade ago, when I lived in the US, NPR was genially Left-of-centre, but not aggressively so. Last week it revealed itself to be — in the eyes of many Americans — quite unhinged, publishing an interview with Vicky Osterweil, the author of a book called In Defense of Looting.

Osterweil made two assertions, the first being that looting is justified because it attacks the idea of private property and the world of work: “So you get to the heart of that property relation, and demonstrate that without police and without state oppression, we can have things for free.”

The second is that stealing from shops is part of the wider movement for change in America: “Looting strikes at the heart of property, of whiteness and of the police,” she said: “It gets to the very root of the way those three things are interconnected. And also it provides people with an imaginative sense of freedom and pleasure and helps them imagine a world that could be. And I think that’s a part of it that doesn’t really get talked about — that riots and looting are experienced as sort of joyous and liberatory.”

None of this is robustly challenged, and this was not some sociology professor playing with edgy thoughts on campus — it was an interview conducted and disseminated by one of the most important mainstream broadcasters in the USA, a non-profit devoted to ideals of impartiality and truth.

Read it all.


I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

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

(NYT Op-ed) Esau McCaulley–What the Bible has to say about Black Anger

Jesus’ resurrection three days after his crucifixion shows that neither the lynching tree nor the cross have the final say about those whom God values. The state thought that violence could stop God’s purposes. For the Christian, the resurrection makes clear the futility of the attempt. Further, Jesus’ profound act of forgiving his opponents provides me with the theological resources to hope.

Dare we speak of hope when chants of “I can’t breathe” echo in the streets? Do we risk the criticism commonly levied at Christians that we move too quickly to hope because faith pacifies? Resurrection hope doesn’t remove the Christian from the struggle for justice. It empties the state’s greatest weapon — the fear of death — of its power.

Hope is possible if we recognize that it does not rule out justice. It is what separates justice from vengeance. Howard Thurman wrote in his classic work “Jesus and the Disinherited” about how rage, once unleashed, tends to spill out beyond its intended target and consume everything. The hatred of our enemy that we take to the streets returns with us to our friendships, marriages and communities. It damages our own souls.

Christians contend for justice because we care about black lives, families and communities. We contend for reconciliation after the establishment of justice because there must be a future that is more than mutual contempt and suspicion. But justice and reconciliation cannot come at the cost of black lives. The only peaceful future is a just future. And because Christians should be a people for peace, we must be a people for justice even when it seems ever to elude us. Too many black lives have been lost to accept anything else.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Violence

(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

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

David French–American Racism: We’ve Got So Very Far to Go: And the journey must continue step-by-step

So now I sit in a different place. But where do I stand? I believe the following things to be true:

  1. Slavery was legal and defended morally and (ultimately) militarily from 1619 to 1865.
  2. After slavery, racial discrimination was lawful and defended morally (and often violently) from 1865 to 1964.
  3. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not end illegal discrimination or racism, it mainly gave black Americans the legal tools to fight back against legal injustices.
  4. It is unreasonable to believe that social structures and cultural attitudes that were constructed over a period of 345 years will disappear in 56.
  5. Moreover, the consequences of 345 years of legal and cultural discrimination, are going to be dire, deep-seated, complex, and extraordinarily difficult to comprehensively ameliorate.

It’s hard even to begin to describe all the ramifications of 345 years of legalized oppression and 56 years of contentious change, but we can say two things at once—yes, we have made great strides (and we should acknowledge that fact and remember the men and women who made it possible), but the central and salient consideration of American racial politics shouldn’t center around pride in how far we’ve come, but in humble realization of how much farther we have to go.

Moreover, taking the next steps down that road will have to mean shedding our partisan baggage. It means acknowledging and understanding that the person who is wrong on abortion and health care may be right about police brutality. It means being less outraged at a knee on football turf than at a knee on a man’s neck. And it means declaring that even though we may not agree on everything about race and American life, we can agree on some things, and we can unite where we agree.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Theology, 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.

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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