October 6, 2016

DJAN Statement on the Death of Terence Crutcher

The members of the Disciples Justice Action Network (DJAN) join people of faith and goodwill across the land who continue to express horror and outrage over the senseless and irresponsible shooting death of Mr. Terence Crutcher, an unarmed 40 year-old Black man, at the hands of a police officer of the police department of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

It is profoundly disturbing to all of us that the long nightmare of officer involved deaths of unarmed Black people has consumed Mr. Crutcher, a man whose vehicle had stopped in the middle of a road. Everything within us forces us to believe that had Mr. Crutcher been a White man, the officers would have deemed him to be simply what he was: a stranded motorist in need of their help and not a threat to their well-being.

The toxic pollutants of racism and implicit bias are alive and at work within the thought processes of many within the institutional realms in the United States. These pollutants distinguish themselves by leading actors within these institutions, which of course include law enforcement, to quickly and often without merit, confer the title of "threat" onto Black people, often with deadly consequences, as with the case of Mr. Crutcher whose actions as captured by videotape posed no threat to the lives of the officers on the scene, including the one who discharged her weapon and killed Mr. Cructher.

We encouraged by the swift action of Tulsa's District Attorney to charge the officer responsible for Mr. Crutcher's death with manslaughter. This action has been hailed by fair-minded people in Tulsa and well beyond as a just and appropriate step in holding the officer in question accountable for her unjust and deadly act.

Inasmuch as questionable officer-involved deaths of unarmed Black people are not new and continue to serve as a clear and present cause of concern among Black people and within Black communities across the United States, DJAN calls for an end to the denial of the presence of racism within law enforcement, and a systematic study of the role implicit bias plays with respect to the ways Black people are viewed and treated by law enforcement personnel.

Finally, DJAN calls upon people of faith and goodwill to take personal and institutional inventories of the very real presence of racism in everyday life as made known through the relationships we build, decisions we make, our use of power, and our definitions of threats. We must reject any narrative that suggests that people are automatically credible or threatening simply and only because of the color of their skin.

While we most certainly call for social justice and the establishment of a beloved community where dignity and worth are conferred upon all people as influenced by the life of Jesus Christ, our personal conduct and that of the institutions we guide must model the justice we proclaim.

By the love, grace and power of Jesus Christ working within all of us, we are convinced that justice within law enforcement and society is attainable. May our faith-infused convictions spring us into action. Amen.

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