Ferguson Missouri and Riker’s Island


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It’s been a harsh week for America. Medieval brutality persists at Riker’s Island where guards brutally enforce compliance with virtually no accountability. A small town Missouri police department goes full combat mode when they are defied by black citizens demanding accountability for the murder of an unarmed black teenager by a white officer. There is a growing mindset that rejects accountability. How dare an inmate question anything, even if voices in the mentally ill inmate’s head make them act out? Black citizens in Ferguson demand their white police chief identify the cop who shot the teenager multiple times; oh yes, the victim he lay in the street for 30 minutes before an ambulance arrived. There is a shift in roles here, white law enforcement being questioned and held accountable for their actions to their minority citizens; the curtain is drawn back in small town America, everybody is watching.

Big picture, is America morphing into a police state and we don’t see it? Do as your told, don’t question authority, how dare you not comply is becoming the norm. Not to be Debbie Downer but reflect on these few items. Hows our privacy? Ask German Chancellor Angela Merkle about her cell phone and the NSA; if her cell was monitored, we don’t have a chance. Censorship could be quietly alive and well, what aren’t we reading and viewing, who knows? Does our government torture? Can you say Gitmo, waterboarding and solitary confinement? How about the judicial system? We’re #1 in the world for incarceration, top of the list. Sadly, for American inmates, once in, you’re seldom really out. During the cold war when the USSR was a feared enemy, the Russians had their KGB with unchecked authority. There was no privacy, heavy surveillance, media censorship prevailed and authority was never challenged; oh yes, their prison system was brutal; it all makes me uneasy.

I believe it is always healthy to take a long look in the mirror, as a nation, state or person. Like what you see America? Missouri, how you feeling this week? New York City, any thoughts on the latest NY Times articles on Riker’s Island violence ? http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/14/nyregion/why-violence-toward-inmates-at-rikers-grew.html?_r=0

Me? I have a lot of work to do. My ability to forgive those three people who snubbed my wife right to her face this week for her crime of over seven years ago, my forgiveness is a little strained. Peace of mind, deep joy and a sense of achievement has been sadly scarce this week. I worry for my sons and their personal future with the direction of this nation. I feel unsettled viewing the militarized Ferguson Police Department response to justified outrage and the delayed response by many politicians to a racially charged incident. For thousands, it’s another day behind the wire at Riker’s Island; gangs, guards and despair, plenty to go around. Fairly depressing so what’s the upside, where’s the hope?

Church provides calm solace; it is a healthy place to take a long lingering look in the mirror. The cell gets turned off, I can listen, learn and reflect without being judged or shamed. Everybody is accountable along the way for their actions and choices, none that can be reversed. There is no do over in life, but everybody deserves a second chance with a little forgiveness sprinkled in for good measure. That’s where Jesus steps in, remember, He gave it up for our sins.

Bottom line, the outraged citizens in Ferguson deserve to finally be heard and so does the cop who shot the teenager. Riker’s is a disgrace, the guards are not God; inmates everywhere deserve an element of human dignity while doing their time. Mirror, mirror on the wall, who deserves forgiveness most of all?

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