‘You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder”; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgement.” But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool”, you will be liable to the hell of fire.’
There are no good excuses, no acceptable reasons, no justifications, or rationalizations: the murder of unarmed black people must end. The brutal shooting of Jacob Blake, evidence of excessive use of force and abusive violence, is the latest in an indefensible string of the taking of black lives. This tragic event in Kenosha brings our national shame close to home.
Some claim that we don’t know the whole story. We know enough. “Thou shalt not kill,” is a commandment from God. Jesus expanded the understanding of murder to include intention and desire to harm. We are viewing multiple images of a fundamental abuse of power.
This is not a blanket indictment of law enforcement and police in general. There are incredibly careful, compassionate, moral, and ethical police officers and police forces. We do not want to paint a picture of an evil empire of law and order through violence. This would be wrong on many levels. We support the legal, ethical, and morally correct enforcement of the law. But we are seeing regular evidence of broken, imperfect, harmful – and even evil – conduct from individuals wearing the uniform of law enforcement. This must end.
We pray for the family, friends, and community of Jacob Blake. We call for change, for accountability, for appropriate punishment for those responsible and culpable. We pray for every black woman and man, older and younger, who live in fear for their lives whenever they leave their homes. I want you to know that I and the entire cabinet hear you – racial justice must be a hallmark of ministry in the Wisconsin Conference of The United Methodist Church. This is not simply an empty pledge, but a commitment to work together throughout our conference, with our local churches and the resources of our whole denomination to demand racial justice for all.
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung has served as resident bishop of the Wisconsin Annual Conference since September of 2012. Prior to leading the Wisconsin Conference UMC, Bishop Jung served eight years as bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference (Chicago area).