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Kentucky KCC speaks out on Breonna Taylor

From the Faith Leaders of the Kentucky Council of Churches

With so many others in the Commonwealth today we stand in solidarity with those feeling the frustration and outrage of yet another injustice in the case of Breonna Taylor's death at the hands of Louisville police. Assurances that the letter of the law was observed is hardly comforting when the law has been written, manipulated, and used to deny justice to persons of color in too many times and places. And once again, the opportunity to promote healing and community reconciliation has been passed over. We deplore the injuries endured by protestors and police alike, and hold in our prayers the healing of their bodies, minds, and spirits as we pray for the very soul of our nation.

For Breonna Taylor's family and for many other individuals the long delay in the investigation has already been trauma upon trauma. That the grand jury saw fit to charge no one with any crime in the unjust death of Ms. Taylor but only for the wanton endangerment of her white neighbors is a chilling testament to the inadequacies of our legal and law enforcement procedures as currently construed. Black lives matter. But in the areas of our laws and practice, not as much as white lives.

This must change. Ms. Taylor's death is but one of countless, disproportionate acts of violence suffered by persons of color. Those acts have been perpetrated and perpetuated by a system of police practices and laws rooted in systemic preservation of white-skinned power and privilege. This is idolatrous sin and direct rejection of Christ's command for neighbors to love each other as we love ourselves.

The prophet Amos reminds us that a nation without justice shall fall. Christ, even in the beatitudes which calls for comforting those who mourn, also reminds us that blessing comes to those hungering and thirsting for righteousness; and later, that which we do unto the least we have done unto Christ himself. This is the heart of God's yearning for us and the source of any ethical or moral standing we might seek with the Almighty.

In ethical and moral standing, our society has fallen far short of the mark. While some may be just now coming to awareness, others have known for generations the need for both repentance and action. Let the disappointments and disillusionment of this day demand that we work tirelessly toward the day when our justice systems, our economic systems, our educational systems, our voting systems, and all other aspects of our life together reflect the value of black and brown skinned people. We cannot stop or rest until we have become "repairers of the breach, restorer of streets to live in."

To that end we call for:

  • The immediate improvements in police procedures and for continuing, transparent, community- based review of those procedures with appropriate and timely consequences for those who endanger human life or well-being. Police review boards at both state and city level should comprise citizens representing the diverse neighborhoods they
  • The removal of military equipment from our neighborhoods as tools for policing and the end of the "1033 Program," whereby Congress transfers excess military equipment to local police agencies for use in counter-drug
  • Prohibitions to the hiring or retaining of any law enforcement officer who has a history of excessive force and
  • Reform and improvement of the broken practices that result in little or no repercussions for aggressive officers. So called "internal policing," and unchecked police union contracts, powerless civil arbitration boards, and ineffective external (non-police) review boards contribute to the culture and practice of uncalled-for police violence and inappropriate exoneration of offending
  • An end to the standard of "reasonableness" that allows police officers to shoot to kill black and other racial minority citizens on the officer's assertion that they feared for their
  • Support for initiatives that help inform and educate journalists, police departments, and other civic entities about the culture, history and religious conceptualizations of black, indigenous, and other persons of Ignorance, unsubstantiated biases and "white-skinned norming" have contributed to poor understanding, poor policy, and poor community involvement.
  • The commitment of all persons, parties, protest movements, and departments to engage passionately and non-violently, respecting the dignity and worth of each human soul, even as we relentlessly address the injustices too long endured. We cannot advance the cause of peace and justice by becoming the very evil we deplore and hope to

We urge all Christians to join us in prayers and action:

  • For understanding the system of racial bias we all participate in, and for dismantling it in our hearts, homes, and
  • To hold leadership accountable at every level, in every municipal and state office, that a higher regard for racial justice may prevail.
  • To participate meaningfully and effectively through voting and a commitment to voting

Let us adhere to the challenge of the prophet Micah: to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God toward that day where no mother must fear for their child's life in their own bed.

In the sure and certain hope of resurrection,

Rev. Kent Gilbert, President, and Rev. Dr. Donald K. Gillett, II, Executive Director

Founded in 1947, the Kentucky Council of Churches is one of the most representative and diverse councils of its kind in the United States. Representatives from 16 different conferences, dioceses, and districts from 11 different denominations and several independent and observer traditions form the council which meets throughout the year to consider matters of faith and common work. Over the more than seven decades of its work, the KCC has considered and crafted more than 35 policy statements to help guide Kentuckians in matters of faith in action. To be adopted, all policies must be unanimously approved by representatives from every member body.

At the direction of and on behalf of the gathered leaders of the Kentucky Council of Churches

Kentucky Council of Churches

P.O. Box 23171 Lexington, KY 40523

(859) 269-7715

www.kycouncilofchurches.org

The Kentucky Council of Churches is comprised of the following communions and observers.

African Methodist Episcopal

African Methodist Episcopal Zion

Christian Church in KY (Disciples of Christ)

Christian Methodist Episcopal

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

Episcopal Diocese of Kentucky

Episcopal Diocese of Lexington

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Presbyterian Church (USA)

Roman Catholic

United Church of Christ

United Methodist Church

Union Church, Berea

Friends Meeting Berea/Lexington

Church Women United

Church World Service


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