[Diocese of Atlanta] The Rt. Rev. Robert C. Wright, 10th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, issued the following statement in response to the killing on June 12 of Rayshard Brooks by police in Atlanta, Georgia.
Like you, I am grieving yet another black man being killed by the police. Tragically, this time it has happened in our midst in Atlanta.
We commend Rayshard Brooks’ soul to the loving mercy of our God and his body to the earth. But we also commend his memory and unnecessary death to the conscience of every Georgian, every American, every follower of Jesus and every justice seeker.
For those who dismiss the call for reform in our policing as mere politics, exactly how high does the stack of bodies need to pile up before you lend your voice and strength for change?
From the founding of our country we have had a white supremacy problem.
In this tragic incident, this founding flaw has been revealed again. What looks like the behavior of two police officers is actually a system producing what it was designed to produce, the denial of dignity and safety to black and brown people, specifically black men.
My heart breaks with every telling and retelling of the unjust killing of our nation’s Black citizens. My heart has been broken time and time again in this way since I can remember.
I do not condone violence by the police or protesters because I am a prisoner of God’s hope, because Jesus is the Lord of my life. And, I do not condone property damage for the cause of protest because it gives critics a means to diminish legitimate concerns. But I am, like so many, at my wits end.
When we are killed like dogs in the street, we are told to be patient and that justice will prevail except, justice in these instances, has been the exception and not the rule. People of every race and good will have been told that our eyes are lying when we see murder, or that the person deserved to die because they had a past. So in this case as in the murders of Ahmaud Aubrey, George Floyd, and now Rayshard Brooks we will wait breathing shallow breaths to see if in Georgia and Minnesota we will deviate from our well-worn American pattern.
I stand with all law enforcement who protect and serve the dignity, safety, and rights of all people. I echo Mayor Lance-Bottoms words, “we can do better than this in Atlanta” and commit myself to the hard work of helping Atlanta and our nation to reimagine policing.
And, I pray that the blood of Ahmaud Aubrey, George Floyd, and Rayshard Brooks has not been spilled in vain.