An Open Letter to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon
An imminent grand jury verdict in St. Louis County will determine whether to indict Ferguson police office Darren Wilson on criminal charges for shooting Michael Brown. News reports have detailed the expectation of violence in the St. Louis area after the decision is handed down and the mobilization being planned by law enforcement in response. This is an open letter to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon urging him to maintain peace and protect those exercising their right to free speech. I encourage you to read the letter and join me and others across the country in signing it now. Your voice can make a difference. Sojourners will send the letter and signatures to the Gov. Nixon. – Jim Wallis, Sojourners
Dear Gov. Nixon,
For the last several months, the nation’s eyes have been on Ferguson, Mo. Few had heard of this small St. Louis suburb until Michael Brown was shot and killed by a member of the city’s police department — whose mission is supposedly to serve and protect. Now this community is an infamous global symbol of the nation’s continued struggle for racial equality and the troubling trend of police militarization.
Jesus proclaimed, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9). The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us, “True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.” These are not idealistic thoughts or nice sentiments to be dismissed when tensions and conflict arise. Rather, they are wise words of truth that should guide our thinking in moments of distress. We need to make Jesus’ instruction real and consider Dr. King’s words a practical exhortation for the ensuring peace and public safety in Ferguson once the grand jury has made the decision of whether to indict Darren Wilson.
Whatever happened on that unfortunate day between Michael Brown and Darren Wilson, nobody should have died. And the tensions resulting from Brown’s death were only exacerbated by the police response that focused on exerting power and control through militarized means rather than ensuring public safety and protecting the rights of everyone in the community. Faith leaders stood alongside others, horrified at the sight of an unarmed, dead young black man whose body was allowed to lie in the street for hours. Faith leaders were equally outraged by the use of tear gas, military grade equipment, and other tactics more suitable for a theater of war than the streets of a suburban city.
Sadly we cannot rewrite that chapter in Ferguson’s history, but the pages of the next one remain blank.
Sign on, and share here: http://sojo.net/blogs/2014/11/14/open-letter-missouri-gov-jay-nixon