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VOICES: FINDING JESUS IN THE TEAR GAS BY LAUREN GARCIA


I used to be baptized in an evangelical church as an toddler. We don’t sprinkle or submerge, it’s extra symbolic. You get baptized with the Holy Ghost if you’re sufficiently old to faux the syllables.

By way of Bible class, Trip Bible Faculty, Character Camp and extra I memorized scripture. 10 years out of the church and I can nonetheless recite it. Typically it enters my ideas in these hazy moments earlier than falling asleep. Give and it’ll come again to you. A superb measure, pressed down, shaken collectively and working over. The Lord pours contempt on nobles and disarms the mighty. He reveals the deep issues of darkness and brings utter darkness into the sunshine. Jesus wept.

For many years, I learn tales and heard sermons in regards to the steps of the righteous, about mercy, about equity. I noticed none of these virtues in actual life. I did see the righteous forsaken and their seed begging for bread. I noticed depraved males prosper. I noticed the state and the church benefit from the poor, and nobody bumped into the temple with a whip to avoid wasting them. I questioned these contradictions always. If Jesus stated it was simpler for a camel to get by the attention of a needle than a wealthy man to get into Heaven, why did my pastor renew the lease on his Lexus yearly whereas congregants struggled to maintain meals on the desk? If Jesus stated blessed are the peacemakers, why can we wholly assist establishments whose objective is dying and destruction?

On Might 29, 2020, the Minneapolis Police Division went up in flames. All these years I spent studying about peace, about justice, about evil males withering away like grass… I felt prefer it might truly be actual. Supernatural hope. After which it got here to Richmond.

Two years in the past, Michael Nyantakyi of the Richmond Police Division tased, shot, and murdered Black Richmond Public Faculty trainer Marcus-David Peters. He was unarmed and in the midst of a psychological well being disaster. He was 24 years outdated. His dying and the best way the town reacted to it created an uproar in our activist circles. I attended neighborhood conferences, workplace hours with Mayor Stoney and the Chief of Police, peaceable protests. I informed Chief Durham and Mayor Stoney instantly that I’m afraid to name the police, and lots of of my fellow residents expressed the identical worry. Marcus’s household clearly and persistently articulated calls for: disaster alerts, coaching for law enforcement officials, and a civilian overview board. For 2 years, begging and pleading with the Mayor, the Chief, and metropolis council fell on deaf ears. They have been invited to conferences and by no means confirmed up, they informed us we would have liked a radical investigation earlier than implementing coaching for police. Two years.

After the homicide of George Floyd, Richmonders took collective motion to face in solidarity for Black lives and with all individuals harmed by the hands of the state by an oppressive police pressure. We chanted the identical phrase we’d been chanting for years: assist not dying. Our authorities responded to this cry by sending in metropolis, county, and state police departments to inflict violence and assault our residents, together with members of the press. On the time of this writing, police are nonetheless utilizing chemical weapons banned by the Geneva Conference on protestors, households, kids, pets. They’re gassing individuals of their properties. They’re mendacity about their actions each step of the best way. Is it affordable that Richmond’s management spent two years waffling on motion over taking a life, however have been able to go at a second’s discover over property harm? If the state can mobilize a military in only a few hours over damaged home windows and burning busses, they’re actively selecting to dismiss issues of the neighborhood to keep up the system that harms us each day.

Our leaders ignored our determined cries for assist for years, and after we lastly had sufficient and took to the streets they known as in a fair larger, and extra violent, police pressure to assault us. This must be alarming to all those that stay in our metropolis and within the surrounding counties. Individuals we pay to guard us are terrorizing us and nobody is holding them accountable. With the primary use of tear fuel on June 1st, 20 minutes earlier than curfew on a crowd merely standing in a circle, RPD created a conflict zone, and that use of pressure has not stopped. During the last 30 days, the Richmond Police Division, very like police departments throughout this nation, has confirmed what Black, brown, indigenous, and poor individuals have recognized for years: their true objective is defending property on the expense of the life and well being of our residents. Altering the police chief is not going to resolve this downside. Fixing a damaged taillight does nothing to salvage a totaled automobile. And we received’t get justice by arresting unhealthy cops. The answer to a corrupt system can’t be the identical corrupt system. Justice is reimagining the establishment of policing altogether, and discovering higher methods to supply the social service we fake they do.

I’m a sociologist by coaching. I perceive that the circumstances of huge unemployment, pandemic, worsening inequality and the filming of entitled, murderous cops all coalesced to create the present second. Persons are bored with being drained they usually’re not gonna take it anymore. What we’re witnessing is a historic nationwide rebellion and reclamation we haven’t seen on this scale. However on a private stage, for slightly woman who had the phrases of justice and righteousness seared into her thoughts and coronary heart with no hope of ever getting any… It feels surreal. Marcus-David Peters Circle, previously often called the Lee Monument, has been liberated and reclaimed from the shackles of its oppressive historical past. Black children play on the statue and experience their bikes by the grass. Households take footage and folks prepare dinner and serve meals free of charge. There’s a free library, free seeds and crops, individuals arrange tents to get signatures for petitions. Through the day, MDP Circle is a dreamy little slice of what could possibly be with out the tyrannical hand of the state. At evening, the police fuel and shoot anybody gathered there. The oscillation between pleasure and terror is exhausting.

Typically I take into consideration what we’ll say to youthful generations about this second. All the images we’ll present and the tales we’ll inform of how we banded collectively within the face of pure evil. The hope for a greater world makes the ache bearable. Like discovering Jesus within the tear fuel.

In the event you’re considering combating the tyranny of an unjust authorities, go to 8toabolition.com to study extra about what public security may appear like with out police. In the event you’re considering studying extra in regards to the historical past of policing, Haymarket is providing a free e-book. Solidarity endlessly.

Please observe Lauren’s work by way of her web site: https://laurencgarcia.com/



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