Sister Breonna is gone, far too soon. by Carl Jensen
Would that same police raid have occurred in Brownsboro Farms, an upper middle class, predominantly white, suburb of Louisville, just minutes away from where Breonna died? Well, it never did in the five years that I lived there. And yes, we had drug dealers in the neighborhood, but they were mostly smiling high school boys who drove their parents’ cars.
As one who spent 22 years in law enforcement, I keep asking myself, what now? And I pray that I get to stop asking that question soon. But that will never happen until the war between certain police departments and the communities they serve ends. As in any war, both sides suffer. Citizens of color in communities like Ferguson are subjected to modern day slavery by corrupt police agencies that see them as revenue producing chattel. Deputies are ambushed in their cars.
I used to say this about the phony “War on Drugs”: We will never arrest our way out of this problem. Likewise, we will never legislate our way out of our current crisis. Things like body cameras and ubiquitous social media presence are productive, but they address symptoms, not causes. That’s why I am a disciple of Biblical Justice. Until we change hearts, we can never change minds. Policing is, or should be, a spirit-led profession. Communities need to trust, respect, and embrace those whose sworn obligation is to bring them peace and justice.
In the greatest act of Christian Love and Forgiveness that I’ve ever witnessed, mere days after white supremacist Dylann Roof gunned down her mother and eight other worshippers at the Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina, Ms. Nadine Collier said this: “I forgive you. You took something very precious away from me. I will never get to talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you, and have mercy on your soul. … You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people. If God forgives you, I forgive you.”
Just after the shooting, survivor Felicia Sanders had this to say: “I didn’t want any riots here. Why do I need to get up there and cause chaos, and then other kids would get killed and the neighborhood would get hurt? Let the judicial system handle it.”
Let the judicial system handle it.
Many of my law enforcement colleagues saw that as a validation of policing and the system. I didn’t and still don’t. I see it as a challenge—a challenge to reform an imperfect system to make it worthy of folks like Sister Felicia Sanders.
And before folks jump to any conclusions, I love the police. I write this for their benefit as well as that of the citizens they serve. Policing is a profession in crisis: police suicide rates are among the highest of any occupation. When wars end, peace can be glorious. For all sides.