StPaul

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners;to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
Isaiah 61:1-2a (NRSV)

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Thoughts from St. Paul Staff

THE FACTS, MA’AM,

JUST THE FACTS

 

 

In the latter years of the 1950s and 1960s radio and TV series, DRAGNET, detective Joe Friday's signature phrase, when interviewing female suspects or witnesses, "We just want the facts, ma'am, just the facts.

 

For twe weeks now, we have been hearing people trying to get their version of the "facts" before the public in demonstrations and news conferences. At the same time we hear others calling for patience until all the "facts" can be ascertained.

 

While the "facts" about the encounter in Ferguson, MIssouri between Michael Brown and Officer Daren Wilson are crucial to justice in this case, here are a few more underlying facts that are also crucial to this case and to justice across the country.

 

Police officers, security guards, or vigilantes kill an unarmed black man, woman, or child every 28 hours in our country.  That equals 313 deaths in 2012.  In that year, police officers shot 57 people in Chicago - 50 were black, two were white.  (From "Operation Ghetto Storm Project" 2012 report.)

 

Fifty years ago, on August 20, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act (Also known as the War on Poverty.) into law, saying, “The richest nation on earth can afford it. We cannot afford to lose it.” Yet a half century later, 46.5 million citizens in this country—15 percent--live below the poverty line. (U.S. News & World Report) Ferguson is one of the communities where nearly 20,000 of them live.

 

Ninety-five percent of all economic gains in the U.S. since the Great Recession (2008) went to the top 1 percent. (Capital in the Twenty-first Century by Thomas Piketty) The 400 richest Americans have as much wealth as all 41 million African Americans. The median pay of 337 chief executive officers of S&P 500 companies surveyed last year, topped $10 million each. (Associated Press/Equilar Study)

 

A person working 40 hours a week at the national minimum wage earns $17,130. That is, one CEO is paid as much as 534 minimum wage workers. In 2012, one third of the 153 million Americans with a job made less than $15,000. (Divided: The Perils of Our Growing Inequality by David Cay Johnson) In April Pope Frances tweeted, “Inequality is the root of social evil.”

 

Those may not be facts that will solve the question of who did what to whom on August 9, when and how, but they are facts that contribute to the underlying community conditions that open the door for such events.

 

It is a mountain of a problem. While Oprah Winfrey interviewed Dr. Maya Angelou, she asked, “What moves mountains?” Maya answered, as did Jesus two centuries earlier, “Do you (Does this nation) have faith the size of a mustard seed? That’s all that we need.”

Peace,

 

Pastor Kuether