Contained within the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution are invaluable freedoms such as speech, petition, and to peaceably assemble. Most nations throughout world history have never allotted such opportunities to its citizens. In fact, more people in the world today live without those freedoms than those that do, and most that do, live with limited versions. They are rights that have long been fought for in this country and have not always been honored by our government. However, in today’s America those freedoms are widely exercised and upheld and citizens of this nation should use these treasured rights to push for change and justice.
Over the course of the past year, many have gone too far, committing acts that are merely criminal at best. Showcase: Ferguson. On the one year anniversary of the shooting of Michael Brown the criminal acts reemerged. Authorities had to declare a state of emergency in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday in an effort to put down repeated violence that erupted during demonstrations overnight. Not all broke the law in an attempt to right a perceived wrong. Clergy and civil rights groups led a rally of more than 100 people through city streets, shouting, “This is what democracy looks like” and “Black lives matter.” What began as peaceful demonstrations on Sunday night descended into chaos as gunshots rang out when police in riot gear tried to disperse protesters blocking traffic and smashing storefront windows along a street. Police said Sunday’s gunfire began with two groups of agitators apparently shooting at each other before one of the gunmen ran across a parking lot and was stopped by four officers in an unmarked vehicle. Reports say the gunman, Tyrone Harris, then opened fire on the police and in turn was shot by the police.
There’s one word that comes to mind when looking at this situation…hypocrisy. I’m obviously not talking about those who choose to exercise their God-given and constitutionally-protected rights, but people who protest police violence with crime are no better than those whom they are protesting. This is only a capstone to the first two waves of rioting back in August 2014 following the death of Michael Brown and November and December of 2014 after the jury’s decision to not punish the officer who shot Brown. What was the result of all those riots? Six officers injured, ten people from the public injured, 211 arrests, and millions of dollars in damage done. This is always the end result, if not worse, when people fight hate with hate…it only serves to perpetuate the problem.
People who protest in such a manner spit upon the constitution. Their ruthless, unjust acts are a slap in the face to all those who have gone before them like Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, and many more. They think they are standing up for justice when really they are as much the problem if not a bigger part of the problem. This hate rings out all too familiar heralding us back to days of the militant Black Panthers and propaganda of radicalism and violence promoted by people such as Malcolm X. Let’s learn from history. What happened to Malcolm X? He was killed by the people he formerly led. What service did the militant groups serve? They set back progress that the non-violent activists were achieving and painted their cause in a very bad light.
I hail those who have stood up for justice in a peaceful way and have chosen the path of giving underserved love and respect to people regardless of how they are treated. I hail those who have shown the value of the rights expressed in the first amendment. I hail those who refuse to suffer injustice as long as injustice is sufferable (Declaration of Independence). Those people inspire change. Those people call others to come and follow in their footsteps.
As Jesus Christ once said, “those who draw the sword shall die by it.” (Matthew 26:52) Martin Luther King Jr. later used that as a motto to his nonviolent movement and it served to stay the hand of many. I have no doubt that police brutality causes anger to well up inside many. Rightfully so. I am not ignorant to the fact that race can be an issue in parts of this nation. But in the words of our Maker, “do not repay evil with evil.” (Proverbs 20:22, Romans 12:17, 1 Peter 3:9 and many more). If we want to see the world change we need to, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44) When the world sees the power of grace working through those who stand up for injustice, hearts will be changed! Ultimately, we know that it is God who will bring the final, enduring justice and may Christ return soon to hasten that day!