Asbury, NJ, September 11, 2014 --(PR.com
)-- While on a recent sabbatical, getting some much-needed rest for the first time in over 30 years of ministry, Bishop Donald Hilliard was able to rest his body, but not his mind or heart, as he watched the scene unfold in Ferguson, MO.
An unarmed Black teenager was slain by a white police officer in the middle of the street, in broad daylight, a few blocks from his home. While there's been speculation regarding what transpired prior to Mike Brown's death, the reality is that a police officer shot and killed an unarmed man. Regardless of what he is alleged to have done before his encounter with at least six bullets from the gun of Officer Darren Wilson, he certainly did not deserve to die.
It alarms the Bishop that there are vigilante cops roaming the streets like real-life Judge Dredds, doling out executions in urban communities. He feels that the level of aggression exhibited by these officers is unacceptable, that “shoot to kill" should not be standard operating procedure for those who are sworn to "protect and serve." The question that he, and many in Ferguson and around the country are asking is, "Who is going to protect those in the inner cities from those who are supposed to protect them?"
As a minister, Bishop Hilliard feels that a part of his mission is to be prophetic, to address both spiritual and social matters. He feels that those who feed souls cannot remain silent in the wake of growing violence in inner city communities, regardless of the origin.
Though he wholeheartedly supports police departments, which have many great men and women in uniform who face daily danger in order to keep citizens safe, Bishop Hilliard notes that the bad apples must be rooted out, not allowed to exercise personal agendas.
When a police officer kills an unarmed man, which occurs too frequently in inner cities, residents feel violated and distrustful. The Ferguson violence that occurred was partly due to their pain boiling over. While Bishop Hilliard is not condoning violence, the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ring out loud - "a riot is the language of the unheard." Indeed, when people are not allowed to speak up, they act out.
In the view of Bishop Hilliard, this is the time to make more voices loudly heard, from the pulpit to the town square. There is a sad legacy of slain Black men, and this alarming trend of history repeating itself cannot continue. He prays that justice is served regarding the deaths of Mike Brown and others who have met the same fate.
America is a powderkeg ready to detonate, if citizens don't quickly unite to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves, warns Bishop Hilliard. He extols everyone to join him – he's standing for Faith, for Freedom, for Ferguson!
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