Wednesday, August 26

ICAC CONDEMNS POLICE BRUTALITY & RACISM

In June the Interfaith Council of Alameda County issued a statement calling for justice, policy change and political action following the killing of George Floyd by members of the Minneapolis Police Department. Now, following the shooting of an unarmed man, Jacob Blake, by a member of the Kenosha, Wisconsin Police Department we find it necessary to reissue that statement. 

Further,  as Election Day 2020 (November 3rd) draws near, we urge the members of our diverse faith traditions to prepare to vote in accordance with our shared values of justice, respect and human dignity. We are prepared to provide assistance with voter registration, voter preparation and voter engagement. Let us affirm that casting our ballots is both a sacred right and a sacred duty.

Our June Statement – 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, the Interfaith Council of Alameda County remains committed to a just, safe and diverse community.

ICAC’s President, Rev. Ken Chambers (Christian), wrote; “During these difficult times with the Covid-19 virus, I was beginning to think that humanity was coming together around race, equality and appreciating each other. Our 1st responders are highly valued and needed in communities. However, our police forces must rid racism from the culture of police departments throughout the 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.

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 Danoa (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. 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. 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.”

District 5 Alameda County Supervisor, Keith Carson wrote to ICAC: “Leadership is needed today, in all segments of our society : Talking with over 60 young Black men over the last two days, it has been extremely hard attempting to find the appropriate words that would cause our young and older African Americans to step beyond the anger many Black people feel (so many Black people being murdered by Whites). The young Black men who have been calling and reaching out to me who see these things continue to happen, asking our Elders and Leaders the hard questions, questions that have become increasing difficult to address. “We must struggle together on how to provide that Leadership!”

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 war against them. We plead for respect, understanding and empathy. We pray that our institutions will value human life, not just in word but in deed, attitude, policy and practice.

The Faith of LABC – We live in desperate times. Wildfires rage. Smoke fills the air. Armed militias target unarmed citizens. Strong storms threaten vulnerable towns and cities. May our prayers carry us into the the presence of the One who stands strong, who stands for us, who stands with us “though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.” (Psalm 46:2)