United Methodist Women decries the February shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia, and laments that arrests in his killing were only made last week after a videotape of his final moments went viral although local law enforcement was in possession of this evidence for weeks. The organization also expresses concern in the death of Sean Reed, who live streamed his own killing by police in Indianapolis, Indiana, police officers shooting him more than 10 times and one saying, "Looks like it's going to be a closed casket, homie."
United Methodist Women calls for an end to extrajudicial killings that harken back to our nation's shameful legacy of the lynching of Black people. That contemporaries like Trayvon Martin, Atatiana Jefferson, Tamir Rice, and now Ahmaud Arbery are united in death with the historic lynching victim Emmett Till is a disgrace.
Such devaluing of Black lives matters to God. As Christian women, we stand to demonstrate our faith by challenging racism, racist stereotypes and the criminalization of Black communities and other communities of color. It is a sin to assume a Black person or other person of color is guilty of a crime because they are jogging down a street, or buying Skittles, or playing in a park, or gaming with a nephew at home. Refusing to challenge such racism and injustice is also a sin.
Arbery's death is happening in a moment when the broader structural racism in our society is increasingly revealed through enormous racial disparities evidenced not only in the U.S. COVID-19 death statistics but also in the biased enforcement of social distancing regulations. Black people have been ticketed, beaten and arrested for minor violations of social distancing while armed White people gathering in enormous crowds have been given a free pass.
We are seeing old racist patterns renewed in myriad ways: Black people are subject to lynching; Native American land rights are undermined in South Dakota; Latinx workers are exploited while labor rights are ignored; Asian American communities continue to be demonized with stereotypes of "foreignness" and "disease"; and White supremacists openly organize.
As United Methodist Women, we encourage all members and friends to recommit to The United Methodist Church's Charter for Racial Justice and resist racism in our hearts, our homes, our communities and our country.