Not that long ago, the six officers who were directly related to the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore on April 19th were charged with various crimes ranging from 2nd-degree murder down to misconduct in office. And while I am completely surprised that the officers were charged, in the larger discussion of the tragic death of Freddie Gray most of the conversation/questioning has been about what happened AFTER Freddie Gray was apprehended. That, my friends, misses the much larger issue.
As religious people who want to be involved in the work (I am going to make that assumption, even though I know that may well not be the case), we must start with asking the right questions in order to have satisfactory answers when we go out to engage.
So what is/are the right question(s) when looking at the Freddie Gray case?
The right question…Why did police pursue Freddie Gray in the first place?
According to the BPD, Freddie Gray was neither a wanted person nor posing a threat to the public at the time he turned away from the police and started running. The police officers decided to go after Freddie Gray because he made “eye contact” and then ran.
Back in 1985, the U.S. Supreme Court said that it was unconstitutional for police to use deadly force on a fleeing suspect–except in cases where the suspect was posing an imminent danger. Freddie Gray was not a suspect.
So in asking the right question….why did police pursue Freddie Gray in the first place…we may then begin to take a hard look at the criminalization of blackness and where that stems from. Because my friends, a lot of this stems from theology and religion.
Liberal religious people need to take a hard look at the theologies at their foundations and grapple with the hard truths they present. Only then will liberal religion be able to authentically step into the social justice work that the #BlackLivesMatter movement calls for.
If you ask the right questions, you can begin to get the right answers.