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Sept 10, 2014

Michael Brown’s Tragedy: "America, Can You Hear Me?"

A National OUTCRY!

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I was not going to write about this incident of the death of Michael Brown; especially during the time riots were in progress. Many emotions were flying in the media, across the nation and around the world. The week following his funeral things have calmed in Ferguson, Missouri. Praise God!

According to report, Michael Brown, 18 years old African American was an unarmed teenager gunned down by police on August 9, 2014. The shooting happened when he had his arms up telling the police not to shoot. Based on many eyewitnesses and audio evidence, the bullets from the police officer continued to fire while the teenager was shouting, "Do not shoot" with his hands in a surrender position in the air. He was killed! Some people referred to this as a form of public execution because he was unarmed, with both hands raised in the air above his head. His body was in the street for about four hours in his blood. How would American citizens who witnessed this not be traumatized after seeing such a gruesome scene of the police firing at an unarmed teenager, and his body lying in the street for hours? Wow! This incident led to 17 days of unrest, demonstrations and riots in Ferguson and other streets in St. Louis.

After many days of demonstrations and unrest, we were all hoping for peace. On Monday August 25th was the funeral of Michael Brown at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis, Missouri. The funeral was preceded by a day of peaceful demonstration by university students both white and black, due to pleading by the family members. The funeral day was peaceful. I watched the entire funeral on the television as the St. Louis Channel 5 aired the entire program live. After many speeches of dignitaries, ministers and members of the Congress who attended, I was very pleased. The funeral was designed to help people heal while at the same time not ignore the national outcry for justice!

Certain people started to complain about the grandiose effect of the funeral for this unarmed teenager, gunned down by the police. On Twitter some comments were so outrageous while the funeral was in progress. I cannot even repeat such comment in this report. Racial hatred still reigns in America! All these people came to Michael Brown’s funeral including President Obama’s representatives from the White House, not because they are taking sides, but they came for one purpose – for the healing of the nation. Many people were traumatized and hurting at that time including the family members who lost a promising young man. I have watched many times when non-minorities commit crimes like the one who shot President Reagan, and are ready to face prosecutions. The parents and relatives appear before the television camera saying, "We love our son and we’re going to get him the best defense." And some people will contribute money to the legal defense of such a person. An unarmed teenager was gunned down by the police and we are questioning why so many people are offering words of comfort to the relatives and the community of the deceased. Instead of trying to fix what is broken within the system, we are busy discussing in the media why the grandiose image of his funeral. At times you wonder whether some journalists have any humanity left in them for compassion for humanity. For us to be discussing such subject matter is an indication something is seriously wrong with race relations in this nation. For many of you still questioning the grandiose nature of the funeral, it was not only for Michael Brown as it was for the whole nation and the world. It is for the healing of the nation because many people are angry and hurting! If Michael Brown is your son will you justify his death by the police? We don’t need any more riots! The world is watching us!

Divine Message

As mentioned earlier, I was not going to write about this story. I went to bed on Monday August 25th 2014 after the funeral of Michael Brown. I said to myself, if God wanted me to write about this story, he would have to tell me himself. So, I went to bed. At 3 am. I had a wakeup revelatory dream. I heard the loud voice a female crying. I was told my uncle was dead. I knew my uncle was already dead years ago. It was at that moment, I heard a voice telling me I have to write about the tragedy of Michael Brown. I went down on my knees beside my bed, and started to beg God for forgiveness. God had already placed the title of this article in my heart days before, including what I’m supposed to write. But, I refused waiting for confirmation. In obedience to the heavenly vision, I have to write this article even though it started with personal reluctance.

Removing the Racial Issue

The critical issue to help us understand the problem we face in the nation about gun violence has to be discussed out of the context of race issues. Over the years, I have seen when things happen in the nation, we tend to draw a line of racial division. No matter what happened certain people would support their race even when they see blatant injustice. In fairness to whites, I have heard some of them who were as outraged about the killing of Michael Brown including those who joined the demonstration. Others will see the truth and shake their heads in dismay. Consequently, the problem remains unresolved because the next legal battle is not about solving the social ills associated with the death of an unarmed teenager, but about winning this one for my race. How sad!

I want to make a point very clear in this article and to speak directly to people lining up support on both sides of the races, or between the police and the community. Michael Brown was not an African American. He was a human being born into that race. God did not see him as black; God created a wonderful human being and called him his own child. On earth, we don’t only stigmatize people; we also dehumanize people because of our cultural ills. Let us stop playing games with words and fix the ills in our culture! If we remove his race label, Michael Brown could have been anybody’s child. He could have been a white, Hispanic, Asian, and Indian, does his race really matter? If the days ahead are consumed with war of words between races, or between police and citizens, or between our political positions and people we want to hate, the problems will continue without being addressed, everybody will be victimized! What a shame!

Years ago when President Reagan was in office, the media painted the false picture of blacks as being the drug dealers and sellers. It was a false image because it’s comfortable to blame certain people, especially the minorities for the ills of society to make us feel good about ourselves. I remember some radio program when some older whites called saying, "To get rid of drug problems, get rid of the blacks." The misconception in the mind of the nation was to blame blacks for the drug problems. The radio talk show host who was also white, corrected the caller saying, "Drug problem doesn’t define race – it’s everybody’s problem regardless to race." Because it was misrepresented in the media as black problem, nothing was ever done to deal with the drug problem at infancy. Today, we hear many whites confessing during their testimony in Christian programs that around the same duration of time, they were selling and using drugs as well. Years later, who is suffering from drug problem? Everybody suffers regardless to race or ethnicity. The U.S. media has done so much damage in stigmatizing minorities and people of color in this country. Media propaganda – people without shame! When we choose to condone evil because we want to demonize other people, the evil or injustice we condone may one day come upon us and our children – the retributive law of justice.

Endemic Problems in American Society

We live in a society driven by emotionalism while we use fear to cause people to react negatively or positively. When we get angry, we look for somebody or a group of people to blame. African Americans, people of color and minorities have been stigmatized, demonized, ostracized and condemned as criminals. For many years, the image of a black person has been associated with the image of a criminal. The media has done a good job over the years in characterizing blacks as being criminals. This is America! The media need to be ashamed of themselves because the media created part of the problems. We always want people to blame. When bad things happen, we have to turn our anger towards some people in order to make us feel better, and the minorities become the target of our emotional ventilation. Some politicians have used the same slogan in their political advertisements to stigmatize blacks and minorities as being less worthy. Remember the advertisement, "You didn’t get the job because it was given to an unqualified minority?" The saddest part of this is the tendency to blame the entire race of people each time any black or minority is caught in a crime. For those few days, every black person has to wear the painful stigma of being a criminal just because one black person was involved in a crime. Each time a shooting happens anywhere in the nation, the first question many blacks tend to ask, "Is he a black or white who did the shooting?" Most of those public shootings are caused by whites. But a few times when the shootings were done by a black, you see sadness written over the faces of other blacks. They know they have to wear the image of condemnation by society for a crime committed by another black. All the blacks are therefore guilty! Institutionalized racism and prejudice make innocent people feel shame, and the guilty feel jubilant!

While this is going on, whites are being portrayed in the news as good people solving society’s problem. When blacks do something wonderful and good, they are hardly ever mentioned in the news, except when being arrested. When a crime is committed in the black neighborhood, or in minority or poor areas, the news report is always quick to show the picture of the suspect. However, if the crime happens in the white neighborhood, they show us, not the suspect, but buildings. The impression is that blacks don’t do anything good; they are unpatriotic and just criminals. So what should black teenagers look up to besides sport stars and entertainers? I remember when we had a television program years ago about solving problems in the healthcare industry. I was interviewed and featured in the television report discussing solutions to healthcare problems. A few weeks before the program aired on the national television, a white lady hinted me that they would not air my section of the documentary because blacks are considered in negative light in the country. Sure enough as if her statement was a prophecy, when the program aired, my section was deleted, and was never aired. About 20 years ago one of my daughters came home to tell me what her schoolteacher from a Christian private school said. Her teacher was a young white female who told my daughter that, "Martin Luther King was a thief, he went to steal, that’s why he was shot." I was so angry when my daughter told me. I called one of the largest radio stations in St. Louis to report the incident. My call was never returned. When society intentionally destroys positive images and role models for black children, what do we expect them to look up to? Without doubt some people because of hate will one-day face the crushing blows from the hammer of God’s judgment! God is a righteous judge!

As a result, blacks are only identified in the media as being criminals. The U.S. media has been identified in other countries as propaganda journalism. Some reporters tell the story to fit into their prejudice and bias against other people. What do we expect the black youth to look up to when they are constantly being portrayed as criminals by the media? If certain negative incident happens associated with blacks, all the blacks in the nation are condemned. Each time there is a crime reported in the national media involving a black person, I can tell as I enter the shopping center the following day by the way people are looking at me as if I was the one involved in such a crime. Guilty by association of skin color! I could read anger in faces of whites. I remember at work, I joined a group of people to organize an event. This middle age white lady, a co-worker said in response to my participation, "We don’t want to do anything criminal." I was confused and did not have an idea where such a statement came from. Later it was explained to me by another older white female that blacks in America have to wear the badge of shame, disgrace and humiliation as criminals. She explained that such stigmatization makes some whites feel good about themselves! Wow! When Susan Smith drowned her two children, she blamed it on a masked black man who took the children from her. There was no masked black man. She made it up! Police immediate arrested a couple of blacks based on that false allegation. It was later discovered she drowned her children herself. We have also heard many such allegations when people choose to target blacks as the criminals over crimes committed by others. Based on the DNA evidence today, many blacks that have been previously sent to prison for the crime they did not commit are now being set free after spending many years in jail.

Many times when people look for somebody to blame to cover their crimes, they blame it on people of color and minorities. There was an incident that happened in Las Vegas called the Tailhook Convention military scandal in 1991 where the Navy and Marine aviators became sexually reckless openly in the hallway of the hotels involving about 200 military personnel. The military personnel were behaving unruly shaving the legs and pubic hair of women, having sex in the hallway, running around naked under the heavy influence of alcohol, and doing other things unbecoming of the military personnel. A couple of the military women reported rape. When the scandal broke, instead of the military officer in charge to identify who were involved, he identified an Asian military personnel who was not even in that building where the incident occurred. The entire incident was supposed to be blamed on this poor Asian guy. It was the news media that later interviewed this man who was bewildered and dejected. How could they have blamed him for the incident? They chose to victimize him because he was a minority! What else is new! This is America – the home of the brave with fairness and justice for all! Right!

Similarly, society’s anger has been sharpened with great intolerance in the media against minorities. They become convenient target of accusation, demonization and stigmatization, while the real culprit would go free. Any person or group that has been stigmatized, becomes de-humanized, a convenient target of public execution. Why are we surprised? This incident happened to me on the job more than a couple of times. Blame an innocent man for the entire problem, punish by bringing an innocent person to shame, and the problem will go away. It’s called scape-goating in corporate America! In an incident which followed my resignation a couple of months later, I was supposed to be blamed for certain problem and severely punished to send messages to the rest of the staff. The white male manager said, "A man of your high position being severely punished will send a message to the rest of the staff members." However, I was not gong to let this go. I said, "You’re about to commit a fraud!" My statement took him by surprise. I believe the voice of God spoke through me. The white manager sat back on his chair, tilted his head backwards and tore up the paper of the false allegation he wrote against me, changing his mind. God is my witness! At times I wonder on the day people die and meet God face to face, what would be their excuse for victimizing innocent people. This manager called himself a Christian.

Modern Black Slavery in America

Perhaps many people in the nation and across the world may be wondering what led to the pot of anger and emotions boiling over? Why the outcry for justice, riots and so many days of demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri? I live in the county of St. Louis many miles from the incident. I did not expect the demonstrations would take the turn it took attracting national and international attention. There were French and Russian journalists and others all over the world. I started to wonder if something else was involved in this incident not evident to people in general. On Thursday August 28 at 9 pm CT, St. Louis televisions Channel 5 and Channel 9 conducted a town hall meeting interviewing the youths, some black leaders and some politicians including a white male lawyer who represented the poor people in the St. Louis area.

Most of the discussions were led by white journalists and one black journalist Art Holliday of Channel 5. I will discuss some of the highlights of the discussion later. Something came out that shocked me and placed everything happening in Ferguson in better perspective to the nation and the world. Many of the youth interviewed implied that they are tired of being targeted, stopped and harassed by the police. Many of them claimed they have lost hope that anything would change because "structural racism" has continued for many years. Structural racism? That was the first time I heard such a term! They did not believe their lives would get any better. For the first time listening to these youths, I was very dejected for America as a nation. The person who placed a better understanding in what the black youths were saying was Thomas Harvey, a white lawyer who represented the poor people in St. Louis. Art Holliday of Channel 5 introduced this lawyer’s report. In the group discussions were, Lizz Brown from St. Louis American Newspaper, Jo Mannies of Public Radio, and Thomas Harvey an attorney.

Attorney Thomas Harvey, conducted a study of the St. Louis police system of arrests examining different communities. This is called the ArchCity Defenders Report. His report confirmed what the black youths are saying that they are targeted for traffic stops, harassments by police and punished with heavy traffic fines. In the report more than half of the courts in St. Louis County engage in the "illegal and harmful practices" of charging high court fines and fees on nonviolent offenses like traffic violation, and then arrest people when they don’t pay, reported by Joseph Shapiro of NPR News. The report indicated that blacks make up 67 percent of the City of Ferguson, but blacks are 86 percent of motorists stopped by police. Whites make up of 29 percent of the population but 12.7 percent of the vehicle stops. The City of Ferguson collected $2.6 million in court fines and fees in the year 2013. Court fines and fees were the second largest revenue compared to the $20 million of revenue collected. The NPR investigative report confirmed such practice in Ferguson is common across the nation.

I have been to Ferguson traffic court many years ago to prove my innocence. I noticed 95 % of the people in that court were blacks. I attended another court in the North County with a youth; again, I saw that 98% of all the people in that court were blacks. I came up with the conclusion that blacks were the only people speeding while the whites keep to the speed limit. God forgive me! I was wrong! This report by this white attorney exposed and confirmed the underground plan to be sure most people being stopped for traffic violations are blacks. This is why in the North county of St. Louis, most people in the traffic courts are the black youths. This is a violation of the human rights of blacks in the North County. I saw the same incident on the day President Obama was being inaugurated. I was driving on highway 270 to work. I noticed that afternoon; about ten cars were pulled over by white police officers. All the people in those cars were blacks not a single one was white. I was about to call a television station to observe what was going on, on highways 270 on the day a black president was being inaugurated. Evidently the message by the police department was, "You may have a black president, but it would not change our concealed system of blatant racism."

Stopping blacks and giving them tickets to raise revenue for the local government is not the only way to use blacks to raise revenue or use them to make money. In the courts, blacks are receiving heavy prison sentences compared to whites. Some people have already written a book about this due to racial disparity in the way blacks are being given long years in jail. I remember a case on I.D. television program. A white woman was found guilty killing her husband. But because her children came to court crying, she was given a suspended sentence. Yet, a black woman shot a gun into the ceiling, not injuring anybody, she was given 20 years in jail. America, there is systemic or cultural racism going on leading to the explosion in Ferguson! We are warehousing both our children and minorities to raise revenue for the prison industry! Will America hear this outcry! The incident of the police killing a black male has happened too many times in the nation very recently. It is not by accident that in Ferguson where blacks were 25 percent of the population, of the 55 officers only three are African Americans. It was an economic reason because white police officers with no empathy for blacks will ticket more black youths than black police officers – modern day slavery.

On Sunday August 31, 2014, Al Jazeera News America reported a case of a black teenager who was 14 years old. He was found guilty and given life in jail without parole. There was no convincing evidence he shot any gun according to the report. It was a gang violence that led two people dead. Just because he was at the location, he was found guilty. There was a white male interviewed during the documentary who said, "Even if this young man was just standing at the location where the crime occurred, according to the law, he would be guilty." Guilty by association? So this young man 14 years old was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. God help us! This is American justice system at work folks! Can a person do this to his own child? In a way, we want to completely destroy his life – a 14 year-old. In the same story another white female teenager was high on drugs. She admitted to using drugs, yet she was given a suspended sentence while other blacks teenagers were sent to jail. I remember a case in the media where this young African American man was found guilty of arson. He was tried and sentenced to jail. But the police department was not satisfied. They went and got the mother, tried her and sentenced her to jail based on false evidence. She was charged as an accessory to arson. Later it was revealed the police officer planted the mother’s fingerprints on the can used to purchase the gasoline. This false evidence was used to convict, and send an innocent woman to jail. The police officer later confessed at the time this poor woman had already spent eight years in jail over a crime she was framed!

Echoes of the Blacks and Black Youths from Ferguson Missouri

The town hall meeting was called "Catalyst for Change" aired on August 28, 2014 directed by Channel 5 and 9 St. Louis televisions. The program hashtag #staytunedSTL - it helps us to better understand the current plight of the black youths in America. How I wished the nation could hear their voices in pain! American can you hear them crying out in pain! Here are some statements that were made during the program. They are all saying the same thing about American youths crying out for help. We have abandoned them in the plantations of the inner cities. Will the nation listen and fix this?

From the voices of the black teenagers (including some whites).

"Police don’t respect people with black skin."

"You as a black man is guilty until proven innocent. Society looks at you as a criminal, just by being black."

"The system is set up to be racist called structural racism."

"People in the nation lack empathy for the struggles of the blacks since they are already condemned as criminals."

"Young blacks don’t feel support from older and successful blacks compared to the time the young blacks supported the older ones during the civil right movements."

"The youths feel they are not being treated humanely by the police."

"Why should I get education when I know I am going to be killed by the police?"

The last statement broke my heart. Because I have heard it before from intelligent blacks teenagers who refused to go to college because they were not ready to fight institutionalized racism on the job. I was told, there is no reason getting education and ready to fight racism in corporate America. They claimed to be tired of fighting racism! They have seen what happened to educated blacks in corporate American and how they suffer. The blacks in corporate America are the silent minority within a minority because they do not want to rock the boat. Many of these teenagers are disenchanted. They claimed they would rather stay in the streets than face such abuses. It appears as though our children have lost hope because we have abandoned them! Instead of working and helping them, we left them alone to suffer in the plantation of the drug-infested cities while we adults are trying to be famous! We blame them for society’s problems we, the adults created. The American dream has eluded them; they are only struggling to stay alive while facing the monsters of painful social forces against them in the streets.

On Sunday August 31, NBC nightly news reported some disenchanted, isolated, jobless teenagers in Minnesota being targeted by terrorist organizations for recruitment. The sad thing about this is the rise in those American youths, both whites and blacks joining terrorists group abroad. Everybody both whites, blacks and other minorities can agree this is a dangerous trend for the nation if this continues. It is a serious danger we need to think about when our children start turning against us at home because they are trained as terrorists from abroad. Are we creating our own terrorists when we turn deaf ears to the outcry of our children crying for help in the streets? Are we inadvertently preparing them to join forces out of this country against us? This is a very serious danger to national security if these teenagers are continuously being recruited by terrorists. If more of these teenagers become targets of recruitment by international terrorists organizations, we are doomed! I’m yet to find out why anybody in his or her right mind living comfortable in the U.S or Britain, no matter the problem would want to join any terrorist organization to live in the jungle. Yet, we have reports that thousands of Westerners have joined terrorist organizations to wage war against the West. God help us!

During the town hall meeting Thomas Harvey stressed that the bigger issue is the black youth’s negative contact with the police as one of the issues leading emotional pot to boil over this time. Lizz Brown from the St. Louis American Newspaper apologized to the youths. She implied that after the civil right movement was won, instead of teaching our youth that the struggle is not over, the older blacks abandoned them in the inner cities and walked away. How can these youths handle the problems they did not create?

One bad statement that came out of the meeting was one black female who said, "We should allow our youths to lead while we, the older ones follow." I hate to admit, that is the most ridiculous statement I heard during the town meeting in case somebody picked that statement towards the end. How can we allow the youths to lead when they do not know where they are going, and others have already lost their ways? How can we allow the youth to lead when they have been subjected to bitterness, anger, humiliation and all kinds of dehumanization? Many of them have been influenced by negative forces in the streets and abused by the system like Michael Brown. How can we follow or build on negative initiatives? There is no doubt we need to listen to the youths so we can better understand their plight. However, many of them need attitude adjustment based on the painful situation they have been subjected. We have to educate, and re-educate them to give them hope from hopelessness. We need to teach them the value of education regardless to the challenges of corporate America. They can start their own businesses after college graduation instead of staying in the streets! We have to conduct behavior modification to help them out of bitterness and anger. We need to replace their pessimism with opportunities and positive motivation. Instead of doing this, the older very successful blacks have abandoned the black youths in the plantation of the inner cities. They drive their expensive cars passing the ghettoes of the inner cities they used to belong. Even some of the black pastors that attended Michael Brown’s funeral have been contacted several times. They refused to help us in church community initiatives to help the black youths. So, what is their excuse? Sadly many of them are suffering from the "Infra Dignitatem Syndrome" – the ghetto is now below my dignity! They have forgotten Jesus story of Lazarus and the rich man! Cucullus non facit monachum – a hood doesn’t make a monk. Not everybody wearing a collar is serving the Lord. Some are in the pulpit to use Jesus to enrich their own personal pocket.

Policing to Protect or Policing to Conquer?

I have heard over and over to the point of making me sick that, "Police have the right to use deadly force!" Are we saying the police have the right to be the judge, jury and executioner in split seconds? America has to answer that question. Should we place in the hands of police to execute American citizens for whatever reason they choose. If Michael Brown had an altercation with the police, is this a capital offense? Even if he had committed a crime, is this a justification for his execution without trial. Should the police have that power? When our children misbehave in the street, is this a justification for the police to kill them? If Michael Brown was getting away from the police, is this a capital offense? What happens to disabling a person instead of killing a suspect? If we agree that police have the right to carry out public execution of American citizens in the streets, then we are all in danger including the police. There are militias in this country who would refuse to surrender their guns to the police. If this group of people perceive that the police is going to be coming after them with deadly force each time, are we ready for gun wars in the streets of America creating a form of anarchy? Just something for us to think about! This issue is just not about color. It’s about human right! Should police be given the power to carry out execution of American citizens who make them angry under the pretense the police life is in danger or the suspect has committed a crime?

In other countries, police do not carry guns, they carry night sticks (batons), and their lives were never in danger while arresting a suspect. If we give unlimited power to police officers to kill American citizens at will for whatever reason, we are all in danger. Each time you make this statement, "Police have the right to use a deadly force to kill a citizen," you place your own life and that of your family in danger as well. If we call the police for domestic disturbance, should the police be ready to shoot and kill an irate, emotionally disturbed or an annoying spouse or child? In one incident, the police stopped a black woman in a car with the children. They ordered her to get out of the car while her children were watching and crying, they placed handcuff on her. The ten year old boy following police instructions came out of the car, on the traffic side while trembling, with his hands up in the air. The rest of the children in car were weeping because they were scared. If you watch the video, it would bring you to tears! The woman continued to ask the police what was wrong, what has she done? Later it was a case of a mistaken identity. The woman in handcuffs had done nothing wrong! This incident was reported by CNN on the week of Michael Brown’s funeral! Is this what America has come to – the land of human rights and freedom in pursuit of happiness? No wonder the world is laughing at us!

A couple of years ago, a white lady in the affluent area of St. Louis County was emotionally disturbed. She pointed a gun at the police. This drama was shown on the television. The police also pointed gun at the lady at a distance of about ten feet. Instead of the police shooting to kill this lady, they talked her down, and she was later disarmed. The entire incident took about five to ten minutes. Compared this to an unarmed black teenager with his arms up in the air being shot dead by the police. My question to any police officer out there is, "If Michael Brown is your son, would he be dead today, regardless to the situation, his color or ethnicity?" Police officers face physical abuse and injuries from their family members daily, do they shoot and kill those family members? There is a difference in positioning the police to protect compared to positioning the police to conquer. A person who wants to protect you becomes your friend, while a person who wants to conquer you becomes your enemy.

Protecting the Police Officers

I have some police officers as friends and most of them are very good people. I have even worked with some of them in community initiatives. I’m very concerned about their welfare if we prime up the people to expect a shoot out in confrontation with police. Each time people have encounter with the police, should they expect deadly force? I have had excellent experiences with some police officers, and I had some who stopped me and started shouting insults and profanity at me. There are very good police officers and there are some that needed to be removed from the streets and placed in an office and others many need rehabilitation or professional help for stress. We should also realize that being a police officer is not an easy job. You place your life on the line all the time. A good percentage of them do suffer from burnout, anxiety, depression, loneliness like any other high risky jobs. Do we have a program that can diagnose, treat, and cater to the welfare of such police officers? Can we make our police officers as peace keepers or as public executioners? Today it is Michael Brown, tomorrow it may be your own child regardless to color, race or ethnicity!

Community Relationship with Police

Starting from the church, if we develop a good relationship with the police such incident of killing an unarmed teenager would be eliminated. When you care about somebody, you care about their welfare, not their demise. I have police officers as friends and concerned about their welfare. Perhaps church should start. Invite police officers to play basketball with the kids. Invite them to church picnics and other social events to join in and eat for free (not to come and work). By so doing we can start to bridge the gap between police distrust and the citizens. The police should be our friend and protector, not our enemy! We should not wait until disaster like this happen before we establish a good relationship between the police officers and the community.

Dealing with the racial Issue

I have three relatives who are in interracial marriage and it’s hard for me to take sides because I’m interested in the welfare of my loved ones regardless to color or ethnicity. I also have a play white son and some white friends. The best way to reduce racial tension is to encourage more social interactions and interracial marriages. Once everybody has a relative that is of a different ethnic group, racial lines becomes blurry, it becomes difficult to be insensitive to the welfare of somebody you really love and care about. Such an issue was also raised by some of the teenagers at the town hall meeting sponsored by Channel 5 and 9 St. Louis televisions.

Missed Opportunities

When protestors came from New York, Chicago, Illinois, California, Ohio, etc across the nation to protest in Ferguson, we called them troublemakers, others call them criminals. This is the same name-calling and stigmatizing we place on people. Those protestors from out of town do have very valuable information to share with the nation. I also noticed many whites that were demonstrating as well in support of Michael Brown. I’m not convinced it is a racial issue as much as a police brutality that happened using the platforms or racism and prejudice. The incident could have happened to any American; when the police get angry, they shoot their guns!

Those protestors who came out of town should have been vigorously pursued and interviewed by the media to learn why they came from out of town to protest. The reasons for them coming to Ferguson to protest may give clues to a generalized and endemic problems across the nation about lack of trust for the police department in general. Such opportunity to find out more information from those out-of town protestors was a very important and missed opportunity. If we want to solve a national problem, find out directly from those involved not from television experts who know nothing about the subject matter!

Jesus Teaches Against Stigmatizing People

"Until we accept the sacrifice of the Son of God, we will continue to sacrifice our children on the altar of our disagreements" Evangelist Ravi Zacharias, one of the leading television preachers and Christian apologists.

When Peter had a dream and the Lord revealed common animals to him in the Book of Acts chapter 11. Simon Peter the lead disciple of Jesus refused to accept or eat anything common. It was a dream Jesus would use to illustrate to Peter that salvation is not for the Jews alone, but for everybody even the Gentiles. Jesus then warned him saying, "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common" (Acts 11:9). This was the story of Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian band, meeting Peter of which meeting was arranged by Jesus himself. Peter said, "God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean" (Acts 10:28). If God warned us not to stigmatize people, why do we demonize certain group of people, target and brand them as criminals? We still call ourselves Christians, don’t we – the segregated church of Christ on earth? The meeting between Peter and Cornelius led the entire house of Cornelius receiving the Holy Spirit. "While Peter yet spoke words, the Holy Spirit fell on all of them which heard the word" (Acts 10:44). Later when Peter arrived in Jerusalem, he was confronted about his visit to the house of the Gentiles – the uncircumcised. Peter told them about his vision and how the Lord asked him to go and visit with Cornelius. When they heard Peter’s account as directed by the Holy Spirit, the same people who questioned him gave glory to God. When they heard these things, they became silent, and they glorified God, saying, "Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life" (Acts 11:18).

What a wonderful God! Jesus doesn’t discriminate against anybody even the Samaritans that were despised by the Jews, Jesus reached out to them. How can today’s Christians model the same aspect of the gospel by extending not only the divine message, but also a non-prejudiced gospel? In the past, the Bible has been used by self-serving preachers as a tool for racism!

While we are fighting each other drawing lines between the police and the community, or the blacks and whites, our children are dying in the schools regardless to color, race and ethnicity due to bullying. Many of the teenagers are committing suicides because of this problem in many public schools. Satan keeps us busy fighting each other while he is busy destroying our children with drugs, alcohol, bullying and all other forms of perversions. Suicide was supposed to be the third leading cause of death in people between 15 and 24 years with a total of 4,400 deaths annually, according to CDC. For every one successful suicide among teenagers, there are 100 suicide attempts. There is a strong link between bullying and suicide in the U.S. and other countries. In 2010, the total number of suicides, including adults was 38,364 deaths. I wonder who is winning the war, man or the devil?

Some preachers told me they were not going to protest in Ferguson because the church has failed the community. Instead of preaching the gospel message of Christ, the preachers are being driven by their quest for celebrity image, money and power. They are flying in private jets while church members are starving. Preachers living in multi-million mansions while members are losing their homes to real estate scams. We now have a celebrity driven ministry in the U.S. The church is almost losing its relevance to change the minds of the people because the present church is no longer different from the secular world. "Give me your money! God wants to bless you – gospel! Right! Presently, the devil is winning while our children are dying in the streets. Perhaps we need to look inside our own conscience. In the past years, we kick God out of the schools and embrace perversion as the new day. God is a very patient God. At times his patience runs out. God warned the children of Israel against the violation of his ordinance in Deuteronomy 28:1-14. He told them he would bless them if they follow his instruction given to them. God also warned them of many curses he would place on them if they choose to disobey him in Deuteronomy 28:15-68.

The incident that happened in Ferguson of the death of Michael Brown goes more than the issue of racism between black and white or of police brutality, it is the result of a nation on a collision course to disaster. If America as a nation feels that we can continue to violate the ordinance of God, he has the right to bring us down to nothing. The handwriting is already on the walls. Many have sounded the alarm bell of the fall of America! In chapter 37 of the book Closer Walk with Jesus, published by Lara Publication in 2010, it discusses the prophecy about the fall of the U.S in, "The Prophecy of the Coming Catastrophe." It also discusses some leaders that God placed in office for God’s purpose who have now gone their own direction to make mockery of God. I no longer preach for people to change their minds because the bus of judgment already left the bus station. We as a nation are facing an impending doom! Our prayer is how the faithful will continue to preach God’s message and survive when the hammer of God’s judgment hits this nation. The judgment is fast approaching and is inevitable except if God chooses to change his mind. Sometimes it takes the heavy blows of God’s judgment to wake people up. Stay tuned, the worst is yet to come.

There is always a room for people to repent before the day of the Lord comes with the mighty hammer of God’s judgment. You have to make your choice. Either go with Satan’s deception or follow Jesus to a glorious end.

Failure of the Church

Although we want to blame teenagers in the streets or because they come from single parent homes, what happened to the relevance of the church to community problems? Getting different churches together in the North County of St. Louis where the incident occurred had been a challenge. There are many programs that can be designed within the church and networking with other churches to help these teenagers get off the street. While the churches are building fences between other churches and the communities, they are not building bridges as Jesus asked us to do. Why should we blamed the children when the adults in the church are as confused regarding what to do, or detached from the challenges these youths are facing in the streets? While we are busy dancing in the church every Sunday, our children are dying in the streets. If families have failed these children, church leadership is too busy fundraising, who is going to come to these children’s rescue in the street?

When I was a teenager, we were trained to be foot soldiers for Christ. We led other youths and never to be seduced by the street kids. We were called the young militant for Christ. We preached to other kids, we also preached to the children of non-believers as well motivating them to follow us to church. Our determination as young militants for Christ was never to allow other kids of questionable character to think for us. We went to different Christian camps, Scripture union meetings, Christian leadership training, choir practice, and youth social organization events in the church - - - the kids in the street had no chance influencing us. We were the leaders, even from the high school! If we refused to teach our children the Word of God from the Bible, and help them receive the Holy Spirit, Satan will teach them his gospel of personal destruction. Every parent has an assignment from God to teach children the way of God. You cannot allow the present negative social forces to shape their behavior. The present world is a very predatory and dangerous place for children. Parents have to influence their children in a positive way using the Bible as the foundation because children don’t grow like trees!

Yinka Vidal, author, Closer Walk with Jesus.

Baptist Deacon, Managing Editor - OUTCRY Book Review Magazine

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