In a video that has been watched by millions around the world, George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American, begged for his life and cried for his mother before he stopped breathing with the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer pinned to his neck . Many people, including several prominent Christian leaders across racial and denominational lines, are speaking out and urging others to take a stand against racial injustice. Miles McPherson, senior pastor of the Rock Church in California, noted: “Another black man killed on camera. “This breaks my heart! Holding a hand-cuffed man down with your knee on his neck as he shouts he can’t breathe. What will it take for this to be unacceptable to all of us.
The next morning, the police updated the statement, titled “Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction.” The police said that further information had “become available” and that the FBI was joining the investigation. Leaders like popular Christian musician Matthew West, who watched the video, said what he witnessed made him “Sick to my stomach after watching video of police taking the life of George Floyd. What I just saw is wrong and evil on every level.” Pastor Sheryl Brady of the Potter’s House of North Dallas agreed that now is a good time from all Christians to speak out against injustice and urged the faith community in a Facebook Live broadcast to take a stand.
Brady said “I know I am appalled at this. I’m tired of this and it needs to change. And I think we all need to speak up and speak out. What we saw was the actual life squeezed out of this man who was laying on the ground, by an officer who put his knee and his body weight in the neck of a man who was pleading for mercy,” she said. “Somebody says maybe we should wait until the facts come out Pastor Brady. You know what, I don’t want to wait until the facts come out. I just saw ten minutes worth and I am just so over this. It’s not fair. It’s not right. And somebody’s gotta speak up. We gotta speak up because this should not be happening.”
In a series of tweets, international evangelist Christine Caine suggested that after watching the video of Floyd’s death, she is beginning to change her perspective about the experience of people of colour and the realities they live. “Now after seeing too many videos like this, I’m beginning to wonder if my response should be, ‘Maybe I should try to understand their pain,’” she wrote. “Sometimes we can be so blinded by our experience & reality that we invalidate someone else’s. Today our black brothers & sisters are experiencing another trauma that communicates to them that their lives aren’t valuable.”
Caine went on “Centuries of reoccurring trauma takes its toll on a people group. Today I choose to lay down my truth to learn from my friends of colour. If we are truly the body of Christ one pain affects us all. We aren’t just the body when it’s convenient,” Caine argued. “We are the body when it’s hurting and broken. Just as a leg cannot disconnect from the arm, so I cannot disconnect my pain from that of my brethren. This has to change.” The four officers involved in the incident that led to Floyd’s death have been dismissed and Floyd’s family is calling for the officers’ arrest.
Attorney Tom Kelly said that he is representing former officer Derek Chauvin, (now charged with murder) who is said to be the officer filmed pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey apologized to the black community. “For five minutes, we watched as a white officer pressed his knee into the neck of a black man. For five minutes,” Frey said. “When you hear someone calling for help, you are supposed to help. This officer failed in the most basic human sense. What happened on Chicago and 38th is simply awful. It was traumatic, and it serves as a clear reminder of just how far we have to go. To the black community, to the family, I’m so sorry.”
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