Amir Locke MemorialFebruary 11, 2022

United Responds to Ongoing Police Violence

How long must I bear pain in my soul,

   and have sorrow in my heart all day long?

How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? (Psalm 13:2)

The news is achingly familiar and devastating. Once again, a police officer in the city of Minneapolis has shot and killed a Black man. Amir Locke was asleep on his sofa when police burst into the apartment; the officers and the system that empowered them bear responsibility for creating the dangerous conditions that led to his death. And so, once again family members and a community are grieving the preventable and tragic loss of another young life. And, once again, it compounds the ongoing trauma experienced by the Black community.

People of conscience must demand an end to the cycle of violence that repeatedly takes Black lives. To allow the police to continue on this path as agents of a white supremacist system is morally reprehensible and utterly unjustifiable. Time and time again, police officers shoot and kill in circumstances in which they were the aggressors and in which their lives may not have been in danger. As people of faith who honor the sacredness and worth of each life, we must not tolerate a broken system that creates summary executions. The Minneapolis Police Department has a long and deadly history of this conduct, and it cannot ethically be allowed to continue.

While it is important to immediately end the use of deadly tactics such as no-knock raids and chokeholds, which endanger rather than save lives, we must go further. These efforts take away some deadly weapons but not the power of the police to kill most often with impunity, and the systems that facilitate it. Those systems and a police force culture reflected in a long history of accusations of racism, abuse and excessive violence must change and those responsible for it must be held accountable. Our governments must prioritize the health, safety and wellbeing of our citizens at all levels, including bringing equity to communities of color in our state.

How long, O God? How long must we bear this pain? The answer to that question is up to us.

Photo: A memorial for Amir Locke at the building where he was killed.