Photo courtesy Alice and Dorothy V. Used with permission.
The news out of Minneapolis yesterday was relief. Relief for the family of George Floyd. Relief for a tense nation. Relief for all those who wondered if such a verdict was even possible. It was a time for a weary people to catch their breath.
Being born in Minnesota, I always thought it was a special place. This past year, I felt sadness and shame for the state. Some of that is gone today.
It was right to see a president and vice-president weigh in definitively on the side of justice. It was good to hear the voices of the family with hope in their voices. And it was so sweet to hear the name of Jesus, praised for his justice, on national TV.
We will return to the theme of racial justice in a few Sundays. These past two weeks have brought more responses than anything else I've preached here at Fellowship. Clearly this hits close to home. Clearly we all want better. One of the responses, defiinitely worth checking out, is this clip from CBC's The National on anti-Asian racism in Canada. Some of you will recognize Ron Masengi in the video. (Thank you Chong and Martha for sharing it.)
Finally, I share with you this "Reflection on the Derek Chauvin Verdict" from Colin Watson, Sr., the Executive Director of the Christian Reformed Church of North America:
“A verdict has been reached in the Derek Chauvin murder trial”—and with this announcement made late in the day on Tuesday, Apr. 20, many of us throughout the United States, Canada, and elsewhere held our collective breath as we waited to hear what that verdict would be.
For many people, the pending verdict raised questions. Would the reality of George Floyd, as a fellow human being made in God’s image, be affirmed– or would our ailing society once again fail to acknowledge the basic humanity of another black life?
For the past few weeks, the media shifted their attention from the COVID-19 pandemic to this other sort of virus. Racism is very real in our broken world, and the Derek Chauvin trial has pushed it back into the limelight.
For people who have not been following this story, Derek Chauvin is a former Minneapolis police officer who was charged with murdering George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest last May.
Some refuse to believe that race had anything to do with this tragic death. For many others, George Floyd was yet another name on a long list of black men and women who were murdered at the hands of others, including police officers. As a result, the Chauvin trial came to be seen almost as a litmus test to determine whether justice would be served in this case.
As we now know, Chauvin was found guilty on all counts: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
And with this announcement came a ray of hope that perhaps we, as a society, can collectively stand together on the same side of this issue. Perhaps we can agree with the findings of the jury that, in this case, Chauvin attempted to use the power of the system to try to deny life and liberty to a fellow human being—and perhaps we can collectively say no, there is a better way, the way of "shalom."
Living in a fallen world, we must acknowledge that this was not an isolated incident. For many black, Indigenous, and other people of color, events such as the death of George Floyd are a reminder of the many overt and subtle acts of discrimination they face daily. A trial such as Chauvin’s, in which the actions of the victim are scrutinized and judged, seems to unfairly shift the blame for all these other acts on the victims as well. It retraumatizes countless people who have previously been hurt.
While we as Christians should be pleased with the way in which this jury's conclusions honor and respect the lives of the BIPOC community, we also recognize that this verdict represents only a tiny shred of justice. True shalom would have resulted in George Floyd not losing his life at the hands of an officer of the law.
That’s why today, as we hear and react to the verdict, we would like to call on all of the members of the Christian Reformed Church in North America to join in a time of prayer: