As African American people of faith, inclusive of concerned clergy and committed laypersons, we recently responded to a call from our brother Rev. Jerry McAfee to reduce the gun violence in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
We were outraged by the shooting of several young children and could no longer suffer the injustice of being held hostage by the lawlessness that has overtaken the Twin Cities.
We called this action “21 Days of Peace.” After obtaining from law enforcement a detailed list of the most troubling “hot spots” in our community we pursued a ministry of presence. The results have been gratifying. Minneapolis police reported publicly that significant reductions have been achieved in the “hot spots” and neighbors and business people are feeling empowered to reclaim the public spaces that were dominated by lawlessness.
As a framework for our social action, we have chosen to follow the template laid out in the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” in which Dr. Martin Luther King described “injustice anywhere” as “injustice everywhere.”
We are compelled to speak out in respect to the recent treatment of the Minneapolis Council
Vice-President Andrea Jenkins during her very public harassment earlier last week. We
denounce the behavior of those who attempted to intimidate and then chose to hold her hostage
for one-and-a-half hours in her car and force her to sign a letter of demands as a condition of
release. This type of treatment is deplorable.
While protest is an exercise of our first amendment rights, it stops short of invoking terror or physical violence as a means of expression and we neither recognize it as legitimate or excusable. It is unacceptable.
Finally, it is worth noting that Dr. King and those before us did not enjoy the level of representation by African American elected officials that we experience today. The persistence and focus of the modern civil rights era was a major contributor to the electoral opportunity of officials like Council Vice President Jenkins, Attorney General Keith Ellison, and Vice President Kamala Harris.
We recognize and embrace our obligation to defend them as they seek to serve. Many others may choose silence in this moment. We do not! The actions perpetrated were reprehensible. Those that engaged in these actions owe an apology.
21 Days of Peace Initiative