Archive for Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lawrence congregations gather to mourn events in Ferguson

August 28, 2014


Barbara Johnston, right, of Baldwin, claps her hands together while Susie Brooks, center, and Delores Lang-Patton, both of Lawrence, share a song sheet as the women join in song during vigil for Michael Brown and other victims of racial violence Thursday evening at St. Luke AME Church, 900 New York.

Barbara Johnston, right, of Baldwin, claps her hands together while Susie Brooks, center, and Delores Lang-Patton, both of Lawrence, share a song sheet as the women join in song during vigil for Michael Brown and other victims of racial violence Thursday evening at St. Luke AME Church, 900 New York.

A congregation of various faiths and followers gathered Thursday at St. Luke African Methodist Episcopal Church to mourn and rally in the wake of Michael Brown's death at the hands of a Ferguson, Mo., police officer.

More than 130 people filled the church pews to sing and hear sermons from leaders of Douglas County Jewish, Mennonite, Christian, Islamic, Unitarian and academic organizations. They brought together themes of the negative effects of institutionalized racism and working together to understand, and to end, the prejudices that certain communities face.

The event was organized by Rabbi Moti Rieber, of the Lawrence Jewish Community Congregation. In April, he put together a similar communion in Lawrence following a shooting spree at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park.

"We come here tonight to flip the script on race and all the 'isms' in America that deny equal protections," said Randal Jelks, a Kansas University professor of African and African-American Studies. "If you believe what was done in Ferguson and elsewhere around the country was unjust, you came together tonight to write a new American script."

Brown, 18, who is black, was shot and killed by white police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9. With conflicting accounts on what precipitated the shooting, the St. Louis suburb roiled with protests both peaceful and violent in the following days, inciting a federal investigation and a flood of international press.

Thursday night in Lawrence, the Rev. Joanna Harader, of Peace Mennonite Church, told of a time during her college days when a black friend informed her it wouldn't be wise for him to be seen with her in a small town in southwestern Virginia.

"Of course I didn't think of it because I'm white and didn't have to think of it," she said. "I should be aware that these things are happening in our world, and it's a sin to be closing my eyes to the racial injustice."

Many of the speakers advocated for continued collaboration between local congregations. After accepting an invitation to speak at the Plymouth Congregational Church and extending the same invite back to Rev. Peter Luckey, Pastor Verdell Taylor, of St. Luke, ended the evening by imploring the audience to be proactive in dissolving prejudices in Lawrence and other Douglas County communities.

"Situations like Ferguson will occur, and we need to be prepared because it could have been this community that we love and know as Lawrence, Kan.," Taylor said. "We must become proactive rather than reactive."


Richard Heckler 3 years, 5 months ago

Are local law enforcement agencies hiring the KKK and/or white supremacists?

The larger question becomes exactly who is law enforcement hiring?

These violent reacting law enforcement types are a threat to all us not just the african American communities.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 5 months ago

In the past, I've seen a Black police officer and a Native American police officer right here in Lawrence.

They might have been members of the KKK, or they might have been white supremacists!

Scott Burkhart 3 years, 5 months ago

@ Richard Heckler - Oh, sure, you're you're in as much danger as black youth in America. Do you ever listen to yourself? I am pretty sure that the black police officers in Lawrence, probably didn't check the KKK or White Supremacist "box" on the EEOC hiring form. But it was a good question.

Mike Riner 3 years, 5 months ago

I'm beginning to wonder if Lawrence has its own Al Sharpton....named Richard Heckler.....

Brock Masters 3 years, 5 months ago

We don't know what occurred in Ferguson yet and whether the shooting was justified or not.

Why doesn't this congregation focus on the shooting of the teenager in Ottawa and demand answers there?

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 5 months ago

The mass media of the United States dictates what demands attention, and it's very selective. There are tragedies happening every single day, and it's much easier to focus on one incident than on a larger problem. Also, it makes one "feel good" to protest something that is a popular cause, and thereby become part of something larger than oneself.

"A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic."
- Joseph Stalin (There is some dispute about who originated that quote.)

Deb Engstrom 3 years, 5 months ago

I knew the two situations would be compared. The only similarity is that 2 young people lost their lives.

Brock Masters 3 years, 5 months ago

Why shouldn't they be compared? By newspaper accounts both were teens, both were unarmed and both were killed by the police.

Differences one was black and the other white. One may have attacked the police and the other is not report reported to have attacked them but failed to stop when told.

They came together because they worry that the situation in Ferguson could come to Lawrence. My point is it happened in your backyard why no focus or attention to that death?

Wonder how many know a police officer killed an unarmed man in Utah? No attention on that one either.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 5 months ago

I think what happened in Ferguson has been brewing for a long time. You should read some of the stories about what happened in the past. The police there have not gone out of the way to be a part of the community and get to know people, and have been openly hostile. Look at the hostility displayed during the protests towards people who weren't rioting, including media. The young man in Ottawa was reportedly suicidal and was released from the hospital after only 2 days. Why? Because the "job creators" need more money, so our state's mental health care is almost non existent, except for those people with lots of money. I guess those "job creators" are probably happy there is one less job they have to pretend to create. Time to head to the country club.

Brock Masters 3 years, 5 months ago

It was reported by a poster saying they were from Ottawa that 4 officers have been suspended. They also reported 24 shots were fired. Still no report that he had a gun..

Why is no one concerned about this shooting?

Mike Edson 3 years, 5 months ago

It probably has to do with the teenager in Ottawa was suffering from mental illness and was well known by the police. It is unfortunate that because there is an "explanation" for his behavior, that somehow makes it less important to the media and easier to discount the event. Just because someone struggles with mental illness, it in no way makes their life less valuable.

Jeff Barclay 3 years, 5 months ago

Racism is wrong. Period. Acts 17:26 makes this clear. All mankind is of one blood and made by God. We did not evolve. Our public schools teach our children that we are all the products of time and chance. Evolution is so very wrong. We are all made in the image of God. And in that image is all the dignity and beauty of our Maker. Anyone who using scripture or evolution to defend racism, for example the KKK and other supremacist groups, are manipulators, liars and very, very wrong. However, as Christians, desiring to be faithful to Jesus, who on one occasion did urge His followers to carry a sword for self-defense (Luke 22:36), there has to be a much better way of wrestling through and reversing the plague of racism than calling a policeman, who was protecting himself in the line of duty, a racist.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 5 months ago

"We did not evolve."

"Evolution is so very wrong."

Those are statements of opinion that have no basis in scientific thought. It is true that some fundamentalist churches teach that, but no one can find a shred of evidence that any of the miracles described in the Tanakh or the Bible actually occurred.

That is not to say that HaShem, known as G-d by Christians, does not exist, but many feel that we have no solid evidence either way. And, disproving HaShem's existence is not possible, except by those who feel that they know everything.

Truth: Facts do not depend upon anyone's opinion.

As you pointed out, it is true that racism is wrong. It's been said that if Jesus were to appear today, many would not have anything to do with Him, because his skin color was almost surely rather dark, or perhaps he would appear to be an Arab. And those who don't like Jews would dislike Him intensely, for obvious reasons. In any case, He was certainly not a White European, as often illustrated.

Bob Smith 3 years, 5 months ago

So strong-arm robbery and punching a cop can be hazardous to your health? Who knew?

Amy Varoli Elliott 3 years, 5 months ago

please provide a source (not fox news) that says the officer was punched, the police have not claimed that

Richard Aronoff 3 years, 5 months ago

"St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Christine Byers is reporting that the Ferguson Police Department has over 12 witnesses whose account of the Michael Brown shooting matches the description the officer allegedly gave."

Arnie Bunkers 3 years, 5 months ago

Why does the media and others constantly refer to the deceased as "unarmed"? Clearly he was unarmed, but he could aslo be described as "threatning", or " menacing".
There are plenty of instances where someone who didnt have a gun killed someone. Maybe he bum rushed the cop, in which case the threatning aspect quicly becomes armed. Describing him as "unarmed" is a backdoor way of making him sound "innocent". He may or may not be, the facts arent in, but unarmed could easily be described as threatning.

Richard Aronoff 3 years, 5 months ago

Many years ago there was a PSA that said, "Lock your car. Take your keys. Don't help a good boy go bad." Johnny Carson, commenting on that PSA in one of his monologues, asked, "What is a good boy doing in my car in the first place?" One of the few things that is known for sure about the incident is that Michael Brown robbed a convenience store shortly before his encounter with the officer. The officer may not have known that. But it is very likely that Mr. Brown thought he was about to be busted for the crime. That could explain his alleged behavior.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 5 months ago

There are photographs making the rounds on Facebook that are claimed to be of Michael Brown. I can't post them here, because any of them would surely be removed because they are of him making an obscene gesture. And, I don't know for a fact that they are of him anyway.

Some are accompanied by another photograph of a police officer that was killed in the line of duty, and in the others it's a service member that was killed in one of the wars.

It's pointed out that the man who robbed a convenience store rated three White House officials at his funeral, while the dead police officer and the dead member of the United States military members rated none.

It's all part of a bigger picture. There was nothing unusual about what happened to Mr. Brown, events like that are unfortunately rather common. But this case received a large amount of press coverage, which resulted in a conflagration of riots and looting.

So, Mr. Brown's unfortunate early demise suddenly stands for all of the others who remain unknown. It's so much easier to become outraged about a single case than to become incensed about general wrongdoing.

A notable exception to that is the civil rights movement in the 1960s, when many were protesting the multitude of wrongs that were being perpetuated at the time. I would like to think we are beyond that, but I know we aren't. But, on an individual level, we can do something about it by self examination and trying to improve our thoughts and actions.

Charles Corbett 3 years, 5 months ago

Ron are rather active

and i can see an argument for why the cop shot the young Mr. brown. tragic as it is, being a cop is a dangerous job especially when the public has so much disdain for law enforcement hopefully this will bring about some much needed community oriented policing

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