As Christians in the Black community, we face the dark reality of one of the most challenging brutal beatings by five Black police officers on another Black man. The death of Tyre Nichols has once again brought national attention to our nation. This ongoing problem of police brutality and the disregard for human life continues to remind us that the heart and soul of our country are not well. We are not mentally or spiritually well when we continue to allow this kind of evil to plague our communities and our nation.
When will it end? If it is not mass killings of innocent lives, it is another attack on another Black man being beaten, kicked, pepper sprayed, and relentlessly tasered by police. We, the people, have failed every one of them. We have failed our children slain in schoolhouses and those slaughtered in malls, stores, churches, synagogues, temples, and dance halls. Yes, we failed Tyre Nichols. We failed the many others pulled over on our city streets by law enforcement who abuse their power.
We failed them when we continued to vote people into office who do not pass legislation and enforce laws meant to protect us. We failed them when we are the most advanced nation in the world, yet, we have the most violent and egregious acts of gun violence and police brutality of any democratic government in the world. We cannot continue to deny our own guilt. Silence is complicity.
Wake up America! Tyre Nichols’ cruel death is not just another news story, a political opportunity, or a passing moment in our nation. People are dying because we have failed them! This is the reality of who we are and what we have become as a nation.
We cannot undo this vicious evil attack on our own people alone, but together we can work to ensure that it never happens again. Evil has no face, race, creed, or color. This is an attack on our nation, communities, and our people. This battle must be taken by force, with spiritual leaders, churches, congregations, synagogues, the mosque, community organizers, and grassroots organizations working together.
We must pull down these strongholds of evil, violence, mass killings, and murder. We must seek to legislate policy, march for reform, and speak to transform our nation. I genuinely believe that “True change can only come through prayer and fasting.” But prayer only works when we take action and not passively sit by and wait for others to act. Yes, we must pray, but let us pray for strength, courage, and the determination to work together until justice runs down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.
The Rev. Dr. Ralph E. Williamson is the senior pastor of Christ Our Redeemer AME Church in Irvine, CA.