by Gabino Zavala, Justice and Peace Director
As a nation, we are dealing with parallel plagues. We are still living with the COVID-19 pandemic which has taken the lives of over 100,000 people while George Floyd lost his life at the hands of Minneapolis Police officers while pleading with them that he could not breathe, the death of yet another person of color. George Floyd did not deserve to die because he was black. His death was senseless and brutal. We have a long history of racial injustice boiling over. We need to acknowledge the deeper and ongoing reality of racism toward people of color. We are all connected. What happens to one affects us all.
The protests that we are seeing in our cities reflect the justified anger and frustration of many. How much humiliation, inequality, and indignity can someone take merely because of their race or the color of their skin? As a nation, we support peaceful demonstrations calling attention to injustices. In this case, the injustice is the sin of racism. Though we understand that anger can escalate into violence, we cannot condone it. Violence that damages and destroys the property of innocent shopkeepers and business owners, causing death and injury to peaceful participants and to law enforcement persons is not acceptable.
In a talk given at Stanford University in 1967 titled “The Other America,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” Are we still not hearing? Do we not listen?
This past weekend we celebrated the Feast of Pentecost. Let us pray and work toward a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Let us pray for a desire to rid ourselves of the harm caused by racism and prejudice. Let us pray that the Spirit of truth touch all of us. Let us pray that our broken criminal justice and law enforcement systems be changed. Let us continue to pray for racial justice.