How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
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 13:1–2 (NRSV)
Another video has emerged on a police dash camera showing Tulsa, Oklahoma, police shooting an unarmed forty-year-old African American male. The shooter was a white female. Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan admitted that there was no gun found on Terence Crutcher’s person or in his truck when Tulsa Police killed him on September 16th. Once again, another African American family mourns the loss of a loved one at the hands of police. The sounds of anger and lament are heard throughout our nation in various African American communities and others as this theme of death at the hands of those called to protect and serve continues in our country. Like the Psalmist these communities victimized by the loss of loved ones are crying out, “How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long?”’ (Ps. 13:2).
The church must become agents of change in this militarized culture of policing. Maybe, it is time to advocate for citizens’ review boards in local communities. It appears that sensitivity training is not enough. In cities where citizens’ review boards are formed, common people have a role in assuring accountability in various areas of the police department, including determining the proper use of force in incidents involving police and other citizens. I am not suggesting that all police are bad. However, there is enough bad policing to create credibility questions for those who are good at their jobs.
I am weary of writing these statements related to police killings of unarmed, nonviolent people of color. We must make a commitment to removing the vestiges of racial profiling, racism, and demonization. It is imperative that we engage this issue of police shootings of innocent men, women, and children as a church while calling people to restore true communal living. I would hope that in the comments area below, we would refrain from attacking the message or responding with sarcasm. My request is that you share comments that can lead to remedies in our local communities. Who knows … the life you save may be your own. Meanwhile, let us pray for the family of Terence Crutcher and all of the other victims who mourn the loss of loved ones due to police shootings.