Leaders of a historically white Baptist peacemaking group are calling on white members to stand in solidarity with African Americans in condemning police violence against people of color in the United States.
Board members of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America ~ Bautistas por la Paz released a statement Oct. 4 urging white members to join the Movement for Black Lives, a collective of groups working to fight against white supremacy and end systemic oppression in the United States and around the world.
The statement said BPFNA leaders felt compelled to speak out after the most recent fatal police shootings of 13-year-old Tyre King in Columbus, Ohio; 40-year-old Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Okla.; and 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, N.C., the city where the offices of the peace group started in 1984 are based.
“As an organization committed to peace rooted in justice, BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz has worked for many years to uncover systems of injustice in our midst,” the statement said. “At this moment in history, we are called as people of faith to work against racial injustice in all its forms. Specifically, we are called to condemn the epidemic of police violence against black and brown people in the United States.”
The BPFNA Working Group to Center Black Lives in Pursuit of Racial Justice released a statement Sept. 21 voicing solidarity with Black Lives Matter, a largely African American-led movement protesting violence against African-American males. It was founded in 2013 after the neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting death of African-American teenager Trayvon Martin inside a gated community in Sanford, Fla., in February 2012.
”We know from experience that following Jesus in the path of peace rooted in justice calls us to risk, to sacrifice and sometimes to make challenging choices in our daily lives,” said the statement by the BPFNA board Oct. 4. “We embrace this reality, and as an historically white organization, we strive to offer timely resources for our white members to learn and grow in an understanding of how they can be in solidarity with people of color.”
BPFNA leaders said a set of resources developed by the Catalyst Project in response to the uprising in Ferguson, Mo., following the death of Michael Brown — an unarmed black teenager shot and killed on Aug. 9, 2014, by a white police officer — are “sadly, still relevant.” They recommended in particular the curricula for Engaging White People for this Movement Moment.
“An immediate way to offer support individually is to donate to organizations in the places where these killings happened — support people as they demand accountability,” the BPFNA board said.
The work group compiled a list of action items like contacting legislators and supporting black-owned businesses.
“We as an organization have been offering and will continue to offer resources, training and opportunities for all our members to deepen understanding and commitment,” BPFNA leaders said. “And we pledge to be active supporters to our members as they live out this call in their own lives and their own congregations and communities.”