We, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, are charged to identify, detail, and eradicate the legacy of chattel slavery here in Maryland. One of the most obvious and pernicious examples of the continued legacy of slavery in America is the use of state violence against black men and women. We condemn the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police Officers. And more than that, we condemn the entire system that continues to condone the use of excessive force to police black men and women across the U.S. Continued tolerance, even encouragement, of state-sanctioned violence causes senseless deaths like that suffered by George Floyd not only possible, but inevitable, given the state of our justice system.
To “Strive for Justice and Peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being” is a covenantal obligation of the baptized within our Episcopal tradition. George Floyd was afforded neither justice nor peace. Not by the officer who killed him and not by the officers who stood silently by, complicit, while it happened. We call upon the City Attorney of Minneapolis to indict and arrest not just one but all the officers involved so that we can acknowledge the worth and dignity of George Floyd. And further, we affirm the worth and dignity of all people who continue to be targeted by state sponsored violence. Black lives matter, and we affirm this categorically because black lives are too casually devalued in the administration of justice.
It is part of our common Christian faith to proclaim and celebrate our unity in Christ: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). If all are beloved in the Body of Christ, then we cannot allow the color of one’s skin to determine whether a child made in God’s own image ends up rich or poor, incarcerated or free, sick or healthy, alive or dead. We therefore call upon all Christians to dismantle the system of racism that defines American life, to eradicate white supremacy in all its forms, and to speak boldly and loudly to confront it, in honor of George Floyd, Auhmad Aubrey, Breonna Taylor, Freddie Gray, Tamar Rice and so many more.
We encourage every church in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland to speak publicly about the killings of George Floyd, Auhmad Aubrey and others. And we also encourage you to ask why black and Hispanic Marylanders make up more than half of all COVID-19 related deaths in the state and 3/4 of the diagnosed cases. Ask why unequal access to basic healthcare, and fresh produce and other nutritious food, ensures that black and brown Marylanders are likely to live shorter, less healthy lives, even before and after the seasons of COVID-19. Then act to change those differences. Each congregation and each Christian must find a way to tip the scales in the other direction; to make Paul’s promise in Galatians and Jesus’ promise in the Gospels more manifest on earth tomorrow than they are today. Tomorrow is too late.
The Truth and Reconciliation of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland
Ms. Heather Neil and the Rev. Grey Maggiano, Co-Chairs
The Rev. Canon Christine McCloud
The Rev. Pamela Conrad
The Rev. Nancy Hennessey
Mr. Scott King
Mr. Michael Cobb
Ms. Carrie Brown
Ms. Rebecca Hackett
The Rev. Lauren Welch
The Ven. Ruth Elder, Archdeacon