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Press Release: NETWORK Statement on Michael Brown’s Death and the Ferguson Protests

FOR RELEASE: August 21, 2014

CONTACT: Stephanie Niedringhaus, 202-347-9797 x224, sniedringhaus@networklobby.org

The sin of racism taints our nation’s soul. Daily images of protests in Ferguson and photos of young Michael Brown and the white police officer who shot him break our hearts again and again.

Ferguson is more evidence that the stain of racism is pervasive and that our devaluing of the lives of our black brothers and sisters must be addressed. There is no doubt that it would have been extremely unlikely for a white teenager walking down the street in a white neighborhood to have suffered Michael Brown’s fate.

Michael Brown has been variously described as a “gentle giant” about to start college and a petty thief who confronted a shop-owner attempting to stop him. Neither story matters. He was, in fact, a human being, and there is no justification for shooting an unarmed teenager at least six times. Period.

We must demand justice for Michael Brown, his family and the community of Ferguson.

We want to believe that our country is overcoming our racist past, but the deeper truth is that it still exists everywhere. The anger in Ferguson is justified.

We live in a country where racial profiling is a daily reality and huge wealth, income and education gaps between whites and blacks perpetuate. Unemployment and poverty rates are far higher for blacks, and the numbers of black males in prison are hugely disproportionate.

Meanwhile, the frightening militarization of our police forces has exacerbated tensions, making violence more likely.

If we are to progress at all, we must acknowledge that Ferguson’s protests are justified by the injustices and racism the people experience on a daily basis. And we must then demand justice for all.

Our faith teaches that “racism is not merely one sin among many, it is a radical evil dividing the human family...” We must address that sin within ourselves, our workplaces and our institutions, including our church – and in our nation as a whole. Ferguson shows us once again that the need is urgent.