Evangelical Response to Eric Garner Decision: The System Failed

Once again, the popular image of a Rush Limbaugh faith crumbles. Christianity Today surveyed postings from Evangelical advocates after a grand jury declined to indict New York City Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo, whose choke hold evidently contributed Eric Garner’s death. Almost all the leaders were disheartened. Two samples: Russell Moore, President of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission:

We’ve heard a lot in recent days about rule of law, and that’s exactly right. We need to be emphasizing rule of law. And a rule of law that is biblically just is a rule of law that carries out justice equally. Romans 13 says that the sword of justice is to be wielded against evildoers. Now, what we too often see still is a situation where our African-American brothers and sisters, especially brothers, are more likely to be arrested, more likely to be executed, more likely to be killed. … We have to acknowledge that something is wrong with the system at this point and that something has to be done.

Beth Moore, Founder of Living Proof Ministries

There is no unseeing what we have seen. No unhearing what we have heard. No more claiming we didn’t know. We rise loudly for what is right.

Follow this link for other quotes here.  Read Mark Galli’s editorial here. Some comments:

  • It seems the prosecutor confined the jurors’ choices to manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. Why the limitation? What about reckless endangerment?
  • Many have cited a medical examiner’s report describing Garner’s death as a “homicide.” So case closed: Pantaleo is guilty. Not so fast. Strictly speaking, “homicide” is merely “the killing of one human being by another human being,” with “justifiable homicide” and “excusable homicide” among the sub-classifications.  As of Time Magazine reports: “’homicide’ in this context doesn’t mean what you think. It’s one of five categories medical examiners use to label causes of death and it indicates that ‘someone’s intentional actions led to the death of another person,’ says Gregory G. Davis, president of the National Association of Medical Examiners.” Calabresi asks: “Was Pantaleo criminally negligent in killing Garner? He was, according to New York State law, if he failed ‘to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk’ that Garner would die from his actions, and that failure was ‘a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.'”
  • Far more important, America has now caught a glimpse of our Grand Jury system. It’s a joke — and legal experts have known that for some time. We have also witnessed the seamy side of the police, which African Americans view daily. I saw it while I was a newspaper reporter covering criminal justice: guilty-until-innocent assumptions pervade in a cynical atmosphere. Brutality is often systemic. The American Conservative gives us the sorded details here.

About Charles Redfern

Charles Redfern is a writer, activist, and clergyman living in Connecticut with his wife and family. He's currently writing two books, with more in his head.

View all posts by Charles Redfern


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