Thursday, August 14, 2014

We Must Keep the Feast Day of Jonathan Daniels in Ferguson

In the Episcopal Church, today is the Feast of Jonathan Myrick Daniels. On this date in 1965, Daniels, a young Episcopal seminarian from Keene, N.H. joined a civil rights protest in Fort Deposit, Alabama. He and 28 other protesters were arrested. Daniels was released six days later. While waiting for a ride with three other released protesters, Daniels and another protestor, Ruby Sales, walked over to the Verner's Cash Store to buy a cold drink. Waiting for them there was unpaid special deputy Tom L Coleman. Coleman threatened the group with his shot gun, aiming specifically at Ruby Sales. Daniels pushed Sales out of the way. Coleman shot Daniels, who died instantly. Coleman then shot the fleeing Sales in the back.
Coleman was later acquitted by an all-white jury and faced no penalty for the killing.

Integrity USA stands in solidarity with the peaceful protestors in Ferguson, Missouri. We condemn the outrageous and needless killing of Michael Brown. Just as the ACT UP protesters needed to be heard, just as the voices in gay Africa need to be heard, we must stand for those who fear to speak their mind in their own American suburban community. We condemn police killing of unarmed teenagers in all cases, locations, and situations.

We pray that protestors in Ferguson remember the power of nonviolent resistance.

Integrity USA calls on LGBT Christians to recognize that institutional violence against people of color is violence against our community as well. All too often, LGBT people of color face the brunt of the homophobic and transphobic violence in our country.

As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial 'outside agitator' idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds."

The violence in Ferguson affects all of us. We also condemn the militaristic tactics used against protestors in Ferguson. Rubber bullets and tear gas are weapons of war. Police have no right to carry out these sorts of attacks on American citizens, on the beloved Children of God.

Remember that our Lord Christ too was a victim of institutional violence, was killed in an official manner by the law enforcement of his day. We call on all law enforcement in Ferguson to take extreme care to respect the life, well being, and civil rights of all people in the city, for an immediate end to violence in Ferguson, an immediate demilitarization of the city's police force.

Please join us in praying a collect for peace from the Book of Common Prayer:
Almighty God, kindle, we beseech thee, in every heart the  true love of peace, and guide with thy wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth, that in tranquility thy dominion may increase till the earth is filled with the knowledge of thy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Almighty God, who hast created us in thine own image: Grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil and to make no peace with oppression; and, that we may reverently use our freedom, help us to employ it in the maintenance of justice in our communities and among the nations, to the glory of thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Sarah Vivian Gathright Taylor is the Executive Director of Integrity USA

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