By Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II
Before I could finish weeping about Baton Rouge where Alton Sterling was killed, another shooting happened less than a day later in Minnesota where Philando Castile was killed. This turned my tears into righteous indignation.
Two lives, two souls of black men dead.
Two fathers, two sons, two brothers just trying to make it were killed by those who are supposed to protect and serve.
One killed while selling CDs; one while he was trying to comply with the law.
Five shots in Baton Rouge; four shots in Minnesota.
Each shot heard around the world inflicting more wounds in the already scarred Souls of Black Folks.
Let me own the frustration I have and many in the hood have. Let me own the anger of my sons for whom I cannot find sane words to explain this insanity. Let me be like the Psalmist and ask how long? How long America?
If this were anywhere else we would be calling it police terror. If these cases were Black cops killing white men the nation from its highest level would be moving in every way to stop it. But when it’s Black death the narrative is “no way” could this be murder by police. These victims had to have done something to justify being shot dead. Even if the video shows nothing there has to be something ... it can’t be just outright police terrorism and murder.
I don’t know what to do right now but I do know that refusing to fight for justice is what we cannot do. Not now, not ever.
Yes, I believe justice and righteousness will ultimately prevail, but Lord help my unbelief as well.
Killing of innocent Black bodies by those behind badges is a form of terrorism.
Let’s name it. Let’s tell the truth. And the truth is it has a long ungodly history.
Let’s prosecute these police officers fair but hard because the shooting of innocent Black men and women is done in our names. Until there are consequences this will only continue.
Let us demand federal protection and that every person running for office address this crisis of Badges Bullets and Black Death.
Let us refuse violence and hatred among ourselves as we march and demand change, justice, and accountability. We must act now, not in some distant future.
Black people have never wanted lynch mobs or prosecution before trials. But America, we must have the trials. We must. Internal police led investigations in house are not enough. And, when the facts say murder, no one should be able to hide from the consequences, especially behind a badge.
Let us refuse to allow Alton and Philando's memory to die or for their lives to be dismissed, distorted, or denounced. Blood is crying from the ground and we must pray that this blood troubles the very soul of America until justice is a clear reality. No one has a right to kill a child of God and a creation of God. No one!
Finally, justice has to have a present manifestation. God said let justice roll down like waters and righteousness; like a mighty stream. This is a clear call for justice over here not over yonder. So even when we don't know all there is to do, let us at least remember, when we want to get tired and stop, that we must keep fighting. Remember how Black men were being lynched, one a day at the turn of the 20th Century, no matter how hurt or angry, freedom fighters didn’t quit. They fought back and challenged the systems.
It is our time to stand strong.
When Rosa Parks saw the killers of Emmett Till acquitted, she was hurt, she was angry but she got stronger and took on Jim Crow. They shot at her house. They bombed her house and other houses, but they stood and fought.
I may not know everything we must do but I know this: it’s our time to stand in truth and fight for justice!