Friday, June 16. Philando Castile’s extrajudicial executioner was acquitted on all charges by a Minneapolis jury.
Wednesday, June 21. Sylville Smith’s extrajudicial executioner was acquitted on all charges by a Milwaukee jury.
Friday, June 23. Samuel DuBose’s killer is free because a jury in Cincinnati was deadlocked and this for a second time.
Two Sundays ago, I preached a sermon, PROUD, in honor of PRIDE week and in remembrance of the victims of the Pulse Nightclub massacre. In that sermon I quoted from the novel, Notes From a Crocodile by Qui Miaojin, in which her major character, Lazi, a young gay woman in Taiwan, talks about her life and the life of LGB persons in post-martial Taiwan in the 1980s, saying that she and others like her are confined to the prison of stigma and abuse simply because, “your crime is your existence.”
Philando, a gun owner whom, were he white and shot like he was by a policeman, would have had the NRA howling in protest but of course, because he was Black, the NRA is strangely silent, was guilty of one thing that day that led to his execution. His crime was his existence.
This happens over and over in our country. If you’re a White Republican congressman who is shot, then a howl goes up but strangely enough, it is not a howl about the proliferation of guns but a howling aimed at demonizing liberals as if the only ones killing in this country of upwards of 30 and 40 thousand handgun deaths annually were committed by ideological leftists. This would be analogous to blaming liberal waiters for food poisoning diners and then refusing to ever investigate the root cause of the outbreak. But I digress. You can read my blog post about that here, “Armed and Dangerous.”
Any number of groups of our fellow citizens are threatened daily—women, African Americans, GLBT, Jews, Immigrants of various kinds by a hatred and violence that is simply unacceptable. We won’t pretend, by the way, that many of these groups aren’t demonized and abused and even killed within their own minority communities. But here is the terrible fact facing us today: not only is a withering violence permitted by police (and others) against persons who are deemed by their very existence to be criminal but we have a Congress and a President who perpetuate it and we have, as a people, condoned it.
I’m a clergyperson and am very tempted to say to these perpetrators and their advocates who are now complicit in their heinous crimes that they are going to hell. But that won’t solve the hell we have created right here, right now. White folks, you got a ton of atoning work to do. Mr. President, you should grow up and lend your voice to healing our country. Congress, you are about to commit a crime against millions of Americans, sending them down a river of suffering and loss by opposing their fundamental right to healthcare. And we know you have sold your souls–Democrats and Republicans alike–for NRA money. Church, fellow citizens, there are better angels calling to our natures and our actions. We should listen to them.
Black Lives Matter. Stop Violence Against Women and convict their rapists and murderers. Love your neighbor, including immigrants. Stop blaming Jews for the murder of Christ, Roman soldiers in the First Century did that. LGBT citizens deserve to live fully, freely and protected by the Constitution. And for once, hold accountable a police officer who carries out what is an extrajudicial execution.