“You shall appoint judges and officials throughout your tribes, in all your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, and they shall render just decisions for the people. You must not distort justice; you must not show partiality; and you must not accept bribes, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of those who are in the right. Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, so that you may live and occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”
There has been a whirlwind of incidents this year resulting in the deaths of African Americans, culminating in an expression of frustration, outrage and protest. This all too common recurring scenario has ignited an explosion of emotions being witnessed in major cities across the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
George Floyd is the latest inductee into the Black death fraternity at the hands of unjust police brutality. Floyd’s life was snatched away as a white police officer placed his knee on Floyd’s neck for at least eight minutes, while Floyd, handcuffed and prostrate on the ground, was gasping for air and pleading for his life with, “I can’t breathe.”
This was a modern-day lynching in broad daylight with the officer bearing that similar smug posture from previous eras, over a purchase with a suspected counterfeit $20 bill. This wrongful and uncalled for act has rightfully sparked continuing protests.
My wife and I participated in Faith in Indiana’s civil protest in downtown Indianapolis on May 31. It was a peaceful public demonstration with people of color and our White brothers and sisters all sharing the sentiment of protests exclaiming “no justice, no peace.”
The bent-up frustration and fury over these repeated incidents, along with futile cries for racial justice only being met with insufficient answers and inadequate policy changes and systemic institutional reform, have become exasperating. All of this, while living through an equally lethal pandemic especially to African Americans, have come to a head.
Peaceful protests are supported; violent and unlawful activity of anarchy agitators are not condoned. What’s understandable is that good-intentioned people are simply tired and fed up with these types of incidents occurring, resulting without justice. Enraged emotion encased in the soul, as a pressurized heated interior of a volcano, has only one outlet — eruption. An agonizing constancy of prolonged injustice eventually leads to an increased and unending civil unrest and uproar.
Law enforcement and judicial systems are a civil necessity, and should be recipients of high societal respect. But this degree of respect is earned though community trust built upon reciprocal respect and fairness.
The swift firing of Floyd’s assailant and his accomplices was an enormous distinctive from many prior cases of a similar nature. That, along with the assailant’s arrest and charges of murder and manslaughter, were steps indicating earnest.
The preliminary official autopsy report unfortunately reads as a portent toward the assailant’s absolution, ruling out asphyxia or strangulation as the cause of death. An independent autopsy report finds Floyd’s death was caused by asphyxia. In this seemingly clear-cut case, hopefully history is not a predictor of its outcome. Let not justice be perverted; may justice prevail.
In the midst of the destructive aftermath of Floyd’s death, we must not lose sight that the incitement of the decry and protests across this country was the lynching. The fuel igniting the flames of fury is the intemperate and insensitive leader of the “Make America Great Again” nation. That is an America of chaos.
The America desired, inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King JR. and borne by his torch bearer Robert F. Kennedy, is an America of community. What’s desired is an America where “mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Psalm 85:10 KJV).
Rev. Johnson A. Beaven III is pastor of Citadel of Faith Church of God in Christ. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter at @jbeaven.