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How Ferguson, MO could be (Your City Here) Next

The initial shock of Michael Brown’s death seemed to touch every facet of social media. Everyone seemed to mourn the death of Brown…..

UNTIL…..

 

Robin Williams always had a flare for theatrics. He couldn’t enter a room without people noticing. And so, cruel & intentional or not, focus took a shift. No one was talking about Mike Brown. Everyone was mourning Robin Williams. Not that they shouldn’t. For many, it was like mourning part of their childhood. That kind of pain hurts. Some used it to start conversations about mental health, depression & suicide. These are necessary dialogues.
Still…

Something about our fast food-140 characters-microwave culture doesn’t allow us to multitask. Not because we’re unable, but because we’re distracted. The new shiny object in front of us makes us forget anything else. Constant, new information makes tweets of 3 hours ago irrelevant. Whether it was because we felt like we knew him or not, for anyone outside of Ferguson, MO the news of Robin Williams completely removed the thought of Mike Brown… to most of us.

 

Then yesterday happened.

 

A crazy reminder that our country has not come as far as Martin Luther King, Jr. would have hoped. But a reminder, nonetheless, not all of America was privy to. If you don’t live in Ferguson, MO and if you aren’t on Twitter, you probably don’t know what happened yesterday. Some might even add it’s whether or not you are on “Black Twitter” that’s a better gauge.

 

On Facebook, first day of school photos, BuzzFeed surveys and late night comics paying tribute to one of their own. None of these are bad things. But because social media allows us to know what is going on all over the world without depending on biased news stations, while Twitter was ERUPTING over what was happening in Ferguson, only one friend had posted something on Facebook. Maybe I am to blame because I didn’t add to the Facebook dialogue. But then again, neither did most of you.

 

So, if you weren’t on Twitter last night:

– You didn’t see photos and hear accounts of a militarized police aiming assault rifles at peaceful protesters. ferguson

– You didn’t hear about journalists being arrested and mishandled in a McDonald’s for not clearing out fast enough.

– You didn’t see tear gas hurting innocent community members, who only wanted answers/justice for Mike Brown.

– You missed seeing graphic images of the damage the rubber bullets shot at the crowd caused.

– You missed the police demanding journalists and civilians alike to put away their cameras & stop recording.

– You missed cries for local, state and federal government to ACKNOWLEDGE what was happening.

– You missed outrage as news spread that Alderman Antonio French was arrested, booked & being held on a 24-hour hold.

– You missed people in countries who face similar conflict giving advice on how to protect oneself from tear gas & what not to do to Ferguson citizens.

 

You missed… A LOT.

 

One tweet from @dcbigjohn read, “How bad, and for how long, have things been in #Ferguson if the cops are willing to be this draconian with the world watching?”

 

I wondered the same thing. Then I read tweets from someone who grew up there, who noted now everyone can see what those who lived there deal with every day. Some note the conflict dates back at least 100 years. That much tension, reaching a boiling point, is sure to have deadly impact.

Twitter mentioned that Mike Brown was the FIRST homicide to happen in Ferguson this year. And it was by the hands of the police. This kind of abuse of power doesn’t stop in Ferguson.

 

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

 

Most of all, if you missed Twitter last night, you missed a huge dialogue about what Ferguson means for all of us. About militarized police states. About basic human rights being taken away from people who had their arms up (a sign of surrender, read: NON-THREATENING) by people who were holding assault rifles. About police cars not having dash cams and then demanding recording stop, as if they didn’t want proof of their actions. However, their actions were on display — for the world — and the world wants answers.

 

After waking up this morning, one of the scariest things I noticed: Facebook still had very little mention of Ferguson. Very few people had commented. I think on my own news feed, I maybe saw 3 posts total, instead of just the one. The problem is, it’s not a Ferguson problem.

 

Soon enough, this could be Los Angeles… if/when the CHP officer doesn’t get fired &/or criminally charged for beating a woman on tape. In that instance, I’m curious of LAPD’s role. If they’d be protecting & serving the people against the CHP, or if they’d be required to back them instead. But, even as I wonder that, news is spreading of a LAPD shooting of a young black man, Ezell Ford.

 

Will you speak up when it comes to your neighborhood?

Or are you thinking it will never be your neighborhood?

 

A lot of times, ego gets in the way of us listening to each other.

If we don’t get the credit, we don’t want to be part of the solution.

But this is going to take every one of us.

This is going to take believers doing what Jesus told us to do in Matthew 5:

– Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.Β 

– Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

– Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

– Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me…
If we’re not upset about Ferguson, are we really letting righteousness & righteousness alone quench our thirst? Or are we settling for the knock-off soda, imitation Kool-Aid, overly-processed coconut water…… so much so that if we tasted the real thing, we wouldn’t recognize, or even like, the taste??

 

Can we really represent our son-ship if we aren’t finding a way to make peace? After all, peaceful protesters — whether a different race, economic class, etc. — are still looking for peace. So, how can we show anything but the same to them? Don’t judge those in Ferguson just because your experience is different than theirs. They need support, not judgment. They need someone to listen, to care.

 

As a believer, are you standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves? Are you giving a voice to the voiceless? Injustice ANYWHERE… even a ghetto you don’t live in… a people group you don’t identify with… this was a young man who was about to start college. He deserves a voice as much as the girls being trafficked into horrible situations for as little as $100. That happens in Orange County, CA… which means it is happening everywhere.

 

Are we extending mercy? Mercy is defined as “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.” We cannot pick and choose who to give mercy to. Jesus’ mercy on the cross was for all. Yes, it is okay to seek justice for Michael Brown… Ezell Ford… & every child someone kills. Because no matter what age, we are all someone’s child. And no matter if police or serial killers commit the crime, all lives lost are tragic.

 

In 4 days, it will be 13 years since a friend of mine was murdered. Talking about it recently, someone asked how the college campus responded at the time, losing one of their own. It was interesting to think back & realize, outside of the Greek system, no one talked about it. The campus didn’t do anything to make people feel safer. I guess it was chalked up to a rare statistic, isolated phenomenon. Or even scarier, a “Greek Life” problem.

But the idea of mercy still resonates with me regarding her life & her death.

As many of her friends & family don’t want to see the death penalty taken off the table (in CA, a recent federal judge ruled it unconstitutional), I have long wondered what Cris would want — if she was able to tell us. And, maybe you agree with those who want to see the guilty party put to death.

But would his death bring healing? I don’t think so.

No more than the death of the officer who killed Michael Brown would heal the people of Ferguson.

 

Forgiveness.

Unwarranted compassion.

Grace.

 

That heals. I’m not saying to let the man free. He was like Barabbas in the Bible. His punishment fits the crime. And, yet, I can’t help but think of Jesus… sentenced in Barabbas’ place. Death on the cross. He didn’t deserve punishment, but He took it. For guys like Barabbas. For police officers who kill teenage boys. For men & women who traffick other humans. For those of us who sit idly by doing nothing. He did it for all of us.

 

Unfortunately, Ferguson is not an isolated incidient. When will we see that whether a black teenager is killed by a rogue neighborhood watchman, a police officer or another black teenager, a life is equally lost?? When will we realize that terrorist groups killing Christians in Iraq are just as dangerous as law enforcement officials killing citizens here?

 

Examples like Ferguson, with police completely abusing their power, really just makes me sad for the good ones, who really do protect & serve. And there ARE good ones….. even if at this moment, it seems like there are fewer & fewer of them. But to the good guys, the God-fearing civil servants, we see you & we thank you.

 

Black or white, rich or poor. When Jesus died on the cross, it was for everyone. Ferguson is not a Black problem. It’s not a poor problem. Jews & Gentiles were united by His sacrifice, as are we. “We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord” (Ephesians 2:21, I encourage you to read 14-22).

 

But if those of us who believe in Him — who claim His sacrifice — can’t stand up for the injustice done to His children, to those He created; what good are we claiming His forgiveness over ourselves if we aren’t working to shower the peace & mercy He talks about onto others? After all, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me… whatever you did NOT do for one of the least of these, you did NOT do for me” (Matthew 25:40, 45).

 

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