Image above: Scott Olson via Getty Images (Courtesy of The Huffington Post)
Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
Matthew 26:52 (King James Version)
As we watch the news of continued protests in Ferguson, MO in the wake of the death of (unarmed) 18-year old Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer, we see a disturbing trend taking place.
For years, we’ve seen the deaths of unarmed Black (and other minority) male youth at the hands of law enforcement (and a few private citizens), or other forms of police brutality. And only now, Whites are beginning to feel the sting of the same-especially in the wake of the above events; and the recent #Occupy events. More and more, our police officers-sworn to serve and protect the public-have been doing almost the opposite. And this is sad, because there are many good police officers who do their best to serve the public trust.
However today we see a number of our police acting with impunity against anyone who they feel is a problem: minorities; GLBTQs; artists; innocent unarmed protesters, the mentally ill; and even harmless homeless folk. Today, we see complaints of abuse of power by these officers, which many times seem to fall on deaf ears in police departments all over the land. We see activist groups giving tips on what to do if stopped by the police; the ACLU even has an app to record police action on your smartphone.
And to add fuel to the fire, we seeing a growing militarization of our police forces. When I was coming up, you had SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) officers, however they were for special high-risk situations like hostage takings. However, we now see our police with body armor, helmets, assault weapons that rival a small army, even armored vehicles. What’s up with that? Is our police becoming afraid of the public? Is the police afraid of the next riot? Even military veterans have criticized this militarization.
When I think on the above, I think how these cops have crossed the fine line between “to serve and protect” and “to terrorize and arrest.” We see how some have literally gotten away with murder; and how a police officer was acquitted after brutalizing a mentally ill person. These officers have allowed power to get to them and have traded their consciences for cowardice disguised as “control.”
And once the above fine line is crossed, these people start heading down a slippery slope-a slope leading to their eventual downfall. You see in tonight’s Scripture, Jesus was being arrested (of all things). At that time, Peter took a sword and sliced off one of the arresting party’s ears. Jesus warned Peter that one who lives by the sword (or violence) will die in like manner. This is something many of these law enforcement people don’t realize: violence begets violence. No matter how much protection these cops have-either from the courts or equipment-they cannot escape that Divine Karma that awaits them.
I hope and pray that justice comes for Michael Brown’s family; and a peaceful resolution to the events in Ferguson. However for any police officer who crosses the line, becomes a militarized terrorist on the public dime, and starts down the slippery slope to his/her own downfall? All I can say is “God help you” (if He/She does).
Peace (and justice) for all.