Interfaith Council of Alameda County Condemns Police Brutality and Racism
Once again, with the killing of an African-American man George Floyd, by a white Minneapolis police officer, we are reminded that racial injustice often takes deadly form in the United States of America. In the face of this often-repeated violence against people of color including Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and Steven Taylor, we urge the eradication of this culture of police brutality against people of color in this country.ICAC’s President, Rev. Ken Chambers (Christian) wrote: “As an African American man, it hurts to see such violent attacks on Black people. It makes me think, how many other cases have happened in America that did not make the news? As a father of four children and four grandchildren, and pastor of a local congregation in Oakland, now is the time for us all to pull together for the betterment of our communities. During these difficult times with COVID-19, I was beginning to think that humanity was coming together around race, equality and appreciating each other. Our first responders are highly valued and needed in communities. However, our police forces must rid racism from the culture of police departments throughout this nation.”
Founding Board Member, Jehan Hakim (Muslim) also wrote: “I stand in solidarity with our African American brothers and sisters. I wonder sometimes, if the world was blind, would we still see this type of hate and violence? I do know that racism is a sin. To George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and the many named and unnamed victims of racial bias: May you rest in peace and power. May the Lord give your families patience, faith and strength. May the Lord eradicate racism and discrimination from our world.
Sharing words from the Holy Quran that remind me of Justice:
‘O, you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it is against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allah is a better Protector to both (than you) are.’ (Quran 4:135).”
In writing about systemic racism within America’s institutions, especially in police departments, and what we can do about it, Board Member Jasjit Singh (Sikh) said; “In the Sikh faith, we believe everything occurs in the hukam (will of the almighty.) Sikhs are asked to stand for the oppressed, downtrodden, and poor- as God and prayer is what gives us the strength to take action, but it is ultimately on us.”
Victor Kazanjian (Christian), Executive Director of United Religions Initiative, wrote on white supremacy: “I feel sick. I feel angry. And I feel a deep, deep sadness. My heart breaks and my soul aches for the ways in which human beings so often choose to inflict suffering and pain on one another and our planet rather than offering love and compassion. This is a choice made by every person, in every moment. Will I choose to act from fear and see the other as a threat, or will I act from love and see the other as sister and brother? That is our choice, always. URI’s Charter is clear on this choice. We choose love. We choose compassion. We choose non-violence. We choose equality. And we choose to dedicate our lives to creating cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings.
In a religious sense, evil is that which is contrary to the character and nature of the Divine. White supremacy is evil because to objectify and diminish another created in the image of the Divine is to act in direct opposition to the character and nature of God, Yahweh, Allah, the Great Spirit, the Source of Life. To dehumanize another is to desecrate the Sacred.”
Tyler Gregory, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, wrote: “The systemic oppression of Jews around the world over millennia does not preclude many of us from benefitting from privilege, nor excuse us from anti-racism work. We must walk and chew gum at the same time by committing the Jewish community’s time, energy, and resources to the fight for black lives, racial justice, and ending police brutality.”
As members of faith communities that strengthen the fabric of the larger community, we call for police departments to understand that they serve the people rather than wage war against them. We must shift this culture of violence and brutality against people of color to one of justice, respect, understanding and empathy. We stand with the families of those who have lost loved ones and people fighting for racial justice with a sense of togetherness. We pray that our institutions will value human life, not just in word but in deed, attitude, policy and practice.