Baltimore and the prevailing of peace

Ben Hoekstra

Ben Hoekstra
April 29, 2015

Amidst violent protest in Baltimore, church and other community leaders have shown faith in a peaceful pursuit of justice.

Kimberly Davis
April 29, 2015

I always find it so fascinating when black people, especially, are called to love in times such as these--as if love is the be all and end all. It I as if we are constantly called to live in the "now and not yet."
Recently, the hip-hop artist Common made headlines and had many blacks shaking their heads when he told us to extend a hand in love to end racism.
But how can you extend a hand in love to a system? A system of oppression that has done nothing but hate us and subjugate us since we were brought here on slave ships centuries ago and still doesn't know how to love us? How can you show love to a system such as the church (my church, too) that refuses to examine the inherent privilege afforded to the majority power structure in this country? The idea that we must constantly love our oppressors without challenging the system of oppression is anathema to many blacks. The system will not change because we love. It just doesn't make sense. Not anymore--if it ever did. And we still don't know how Freddie Gray died.

Ben Hoekstra
April 29, 2015

Hey Kimberly! You have a valid point. Simply talking about love will not change a system, and it is unfair to tell those people who are oppressed that they cannot work to change a system. The system is screwed up. There is oppression and bigotry and privilege and it needs to change. I would be the last person to deny that. I'm definitely not saying that we simply need to love and smile and all will be well. Violence is an understandable reaction. But it may not be a Christian one. The system does need to change, but violence is not the way to do it. We need to love, but we need to act! We can advocate for change without violence. That is the responsibility of all Christians- to work to fix a screwed up world and system, no matter the color of their skin. And I agree, that historically and now the church has often told people who are black that they need to just bare it or get over it, that they simply need to love the oppressor. I think that was wrong. We need to seek justice. We need to work for change in our world, and particularly in America. But violence is not the way to do that. We can work for change and do it peacefully, because we know that it is Christ who works in us.

Tom Kamp
April 30, 2015

Well said Ben and excellent job of incorporating Christian world and life view thoughts into all you said. My difficulty in understanding the situation fully is not being able to "walk a mile in those shoes." I can lament the tragedy but still hesitate to point fingers at the police authorities as a whole group because I know many good policemen, brothers in Christ, standing on the front lines of our local towns and cities and doing what is right every day. Let's hold accountable the individuals profiling and creating the perception of injustice and bring them to account and get them out of law enforcement. Until then, PRAY MORE and protest less.

Cyndy Warnier
April 30, 2015

Your article hits home. But what is happening in Baltimore is just a long continuation of what is happening here in the USA and around the world. A breakdown of the family, an adoption of "me first" and sadly, racism and prejudice. Yet I am reminded from Scriptures that our 3 main battles are the Satan, the evil around us and the toughest of all-the evil within us--the sinful nature that only Christ can heal. I don't have the answers; I just have two hands to put together in prayer for Baltimore and everywhere; and I have a hope that stands on the resurrection of Christ that our God is firmly on the throne and even when it doesn't seem like it, His power is at work in this world. To close, let me share some powerful words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.--this is for all those who choose to rob, steal, mob thinking because of what happened to Mr. Gray gives them a right to do so...it doesn't--listen friends to these words of Dr. King: “ The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility. ” ― Martin Luther King, Jr. NOW...let's grow up, everyone, and do what is right!

May 3, 2015

You mention examples of police brutality without giving specific examples can you sight any examples? In Baltimore 90% of murders committed are black on black. You throw the police under the rug...but how about we start with ourselves. It's easy to blame others for our circumstances but most of the issues caused in Baltimore are because people are fighting one another it has nothing to do with police brutality. Show me where a majority of law abiding citizens are being arrested and persecuted by police without cause. Police arrest people who break the law. I've never been arrested...you know why? I don't break the law! Freddie Grays arrest record was a mile long. I applaud the mother who went and got her teenage son during the riots and showed him some discipline. We need more of that. I aggree the system is broken...it gives too many hand outs to folks who aren't working for them. You want to talk about a system of entitlement for the rich...it's not only the rich...it has made its way into those who strictly live off the government. I'm not talking about those who work and just can't keep up and need assistance...I'm mean those who don't even work and have more than those who do. It's a tragedy a young man died but it's time to quit pointing the finger at everyone else and start taking responsibility for our own actions. There is no system of oppression. Certainly there are those who see color but we can't help those folks but we can help ourselves. Everyone has a right to education and opportunity in America. No one handed me anything. No one paid my way through school...I did. Take responsibility for yourself!

Josh Larsen
TC Staff
May 4, 2015

Hi Joey,

You asked for examples of police abuse and challenged the notion that there is a system of oppression at work in America. In the Ta-Nehisi Coates article Ben links to above, he cites these examples from a Baltimore Sun investigation: “Over the past four years, more than 100 people have won court judgments or settlements related to allegations of brutality and civil rights violations. Victims include a 15-year-old boy riding a dirt bike, a 26-year-old pregnant accountant who had witnessed a beating, a 50-year-old woman selling church raffle tickets, a 65-year-old church deacon rolling a cigarette and an 87-year-old grandmother aiding her wounded grandson…”

The full Sun article can be read here: http://data.baltimoresun.com/news/police-settlements/

Josh Larsen (TC editor)

May 6, 2015

Thanks Josh for examples

Add your comment to join the discussion!