Unarmed & Dangerous
This article was written by Steve Ross. You can find the original and more great content on his personal blog site.
Steve has been married to his lifelong best friend Jamie for 15 years. They’re blessed to raise 3 sons and 4 daughters in the inner city they grew up in together. He currently serves as the Executive Pastor of Reach Fellowship in Long Beach, CA and Ministry Development Coordinator at Children’s Hunger Fund, training churches in the complexities of urban poverty and gospel-centered mercy ministry.
You can follow him on Twitter: @dasciple15v
I just watched a(nother) unarmed man get gunned down, retreated from, and left to suffer and die. This time with a bird’s eye view; swirling overhead like a vulture waiting for death. Eerily I listened, as the pilot of a helicopter pronounces a resolute verdict over a man created in the image of the God he’s posing as. Over radio from the sky, he calls out that “it’s time for tasing,” and continues playing judge: “He looks like a baaad dude too.”
Why does law enforcement employ overhead assistance? To better assess the overall situation, and communicate an objective big picture perspective of what’s happening to those on the ground. This time, however the man up above (pun) took to radio and zeros in on the details.. “[he must] be on something (implying drug abuse).” Moments later, the female officer who we later come to know as the wife of one of our narrating-pilots, sends back communication: “SHOTS FIRED!”
Watching and listening to this murder unfold is unbearable and sickening. Terence Crutcher was having car trouble. As reported, “Crutcher’s SUV had stalled in the middle of the road, and police arrived to check on the situation. As they approached the vehicle, a black male started towards them.”
I’m so tired of hearing how my skin makes me dangerous. I’m trying to piece together how Terence’s car breaking down on the way home from class resulted in his death. Officer Betty said (before contradicting video footage) that it was because she “asked him to show his hands and he refused to follow commands.” Not surprisingly this isn’t reflected on camera.
“He continued not to listen and not follow any commands,” she says. Going further with her story, “He reached inside the vehicle, and at that time, there was a Taser deployment and then…there was one shot fired.” Is that what took place?
More than just the shooting, what’s telling time and time again is the way these victims are left to lay in the street without any assistance or medical attention. Recently, I was speaking to a non-black co-worker about the incidents who said, “It’s like they’re not even human.”
It’s like they’re not even human.
Shaun King wrote a very insightful article on NY Daily News expressing this very fact. After police confronted the man who bombed New York and New Jersey neighborhoods, and planted eight other bombs, Rahami pulled out a handgun, shot two of the officers, and began running away. Moments later he was apprehended, and given medical treatment. Can African-Americans get some Ahmad Khan Rahami treatment?
At this point, I feel I can go no further. Ahmad was indeed armed and dangerous. Some of the more recent police shooting victims were indeed involved in criminal activity. In this situation, however, I’m staring at what could easily be my own fate.
I commute 3 hours a day across Los Angeles in an 18 y/o car with 180,xxx miles on the dash. In recent weeks, I’ve had flat tires, an overheated engine, and power steering failure. I am #TerenceCrutcher. Stranded on the wrong road, in need of assistance, I could come face to face with the reality that, all too often because of my skin, I’m seen as (un)Armed and dangerous.
I looked all 7 of my children in the eyes tonight and told them I’m boldly willing to die – so they can live without fear. I’m grieved by the reality that judged from the wrong person’s perspective, my skin makes me a threat and an evil — better to rid the earth of than a person to be valued and honored – let alone protected and served. At this point, it’s taking nothing short of faith the size of a mustard seed to believe that the good law enforcement officers in America aren’t a minority like I am.
My skin makes me a threat and an evil…better to be rid of than a person to be valued and honored.
I mourn at the sight of innocent men who look just like me being mowed down with gunfire – even in front of their children, and there is rarely justice exacted. I am wearied because my lament is more often met with dismissal and condemnation than compassion.
Pray for my strength. I could rattle off more verses by memory than I’d have time to list here; and believe me I have been and continue to rehearse them in preaching to myself. But this isn’t the time to gloss over the systemic issues of injustice that are embedded in our society by over spiritualizing a blog post. This is a call to action.
I need prayer; but I also need help.
I need people who don’t feel my pain to believe me when I say it hurts.
Anglo, and especially Christian, friends, I need you to stand with us. Do not be silent about these issues. We need you to speak up for those of us who feel we can’t do more than weep.
My life is spent promoting and striving for God honoring, Christ exalting, unity across ethnic lines and cultural distinctions. It is far from my desire to be divisive. I want to be heard and helped. I cannot do this alone and I am not. I speak for many who put their jobs, reputations, and even lives on the line by preaching and living out the barrier breaking power of the gospel. We’re battling sin in situations but we’re also at war with it systemically. We need more soldiers.
To read the rest of Steve Ross’ article, visit the original here.
4 thoughts on “Unarmed & Dangerous”
Mark R. Mollenkof
I grieve with you. How much pain and injustice can the African American community bear? The patience and long suffering is amazing. As the white father of 3 biracial adult sons I fear for their safety. No one in our society should fear for their child.s safety simply because of the color of their skin. I pray for justice in America for all people. May God give me courage to put my life on the line for my brothers. To my white brothers and sisters who think it’s okay to keep quiet or to close your eyes to the violence and murders being committed on our streets by those sworn to protect the innocent, I say there will come a time when our community will feel the pain and injustice because we did not hold our government accountable. When one part of the body is injured or amputated the whole body suffers. One day we will be held accountable for not standing with those who are oppressed and violated. May God have mercy.
Steve, thank you for trusting Christ to step out in boldness and willingness to write this. I’m thanking The Lord for your heart. I wanted to write this as an encouragement to you and hopefully others:
I am a young, white, Christian woman who has been so uneducated/blind to the racial injustice happening in our country. Sadly, the minimal amount that I have been educated on, my heart was not broken over and that is absolutely not okay. I see and hear all these people in pain, how could I not be upset? As the body of Christ, we are called to literally weep when one weeps so I had to ask myself a hard question, why am I not weeping? After repenting & seeking education on the injustice, I felt that God has graciously opened my eyes, and broken my heart for those who are hurting. I cannot say that I understand what you are going through because I don’t but I will say that I hear you and I care that you and so many others are hurting. I am choosing to be a soldier- I am choosing to fight for justice in boldness, grace, and love through Christ, Jesus.
As a white man and a Christian I am torn by pleas for solidarity in these cases. Because I don’t think it is this simple. The officer that shot Michael Brown was cleared of wrongdoing. Brown did not have his hands up and he did not say don’t shoot. All of those accused of murdering Freddie Gray were acquitted. How much property damage was done by those that did not wait to see or possibly care what the truth was?
Yes there are cases where the police are wrong and they should be punished to the extent that they are guilty.
As a Christian I want justice to prevail and it should hurt all of God’s people when wrongs are done regardless of race. To reduce the church to the same identity politics as the culture is to demean what Christ did and reconstruct barriers that he tore down.
We might be surprised at the source of some of this same type of fear mongering. I attended a conference at my SBC church in Texas recently where Al Mohler, Steve Lawson, Denny Burk, Owen Strachan were the speakers at a conference sponsored by the leadership of our church. With those names we know this is not some obscure little rouge church. The leadership of my local church was in the process, at the time of the conference, of defending the public use of the “N” word as a pejorative by some of it’s elders. The leadership of our church had also successfully suppressed the event of a threat of physical violence made during a men’s meeting by a leader of a men’s group toward a member for asking why he use “this black girl” as a pejorative to describe a waitress he had encounter in a restaurant. The leadership of this church then started rumors about this same member. The lie was that he was going to divorce his wife and may be physically abusing her. Effectively they destroyed this mans reputation and ran him and his wife out of the church for standing for black people. Perhaps it is wise to look in the mirror and judge ourselves first as we judge the world. These are people we know who are doing this and perpetuating this fear and anger against dark skin.