A Call for Action

Dear people of God:

The same group of religious leaders who invited us to #standinsolidarity last Sunday met yesterday to prepare a statement, calling for action in Omaha in response to recent events. I attended the meeting where the document was prepared and I have signed it. The leaders hope that it will be published in the “World-Herald;” if it is and you see my name with it, I want you to know first from me that I have signed it. I will be happy to discuss it with any who care to talk with me about it. The statement follows:

Voices United of Greater Omaha
June 2020

As leaders in the greater Omaha faith community, we applaud the new and renewed commitment we have seen by so many to overcoming the obstacles to achieving justice and equality for people of color in our community, nation, and world. We stand in solidarity with you, while acknowledging that commitment is meaningless unless it results in meaningful change.

We also acknowledge that true and lasting change is best ensured when the biblical mandate to “love your neighbor as yourself” is upheld even when we are in conflict with our neighbor. To this end, we make the following three proposals to help ensure the safety and well-being of both citizens and law enforcement particularly during times of conflict.

(1) We call upon our elected officials to enact legislation making it illegal for choke holds to be employed by police in situations that are not of immediate threat to their lives.

(2) We call upon the city of Omaha to fulfill with all due haste its commitment to outfit all police officers with body cameras that automatically activate whenever a gun or taser is drawn from its holster.

(3) We call upon our elected officials to enact legislation banning all carrying and use of firearms by the public specifically at public protests and rallies. To be clear, we do not call for a general ban on firearms. Rather, we call for the specific prohibition of firearms by the public in rallies and protests. The presence of such lethal weapons in these places is not only reckless and terror-inducing, but puts both the public and police at greater risk of injury and loss of life.

As clergy and faith leaders, we pray that these proposals make a modest contribution to an ongoing process of reform that will ensure greater justice and safety for all of our neighbors, particularly those for whom justice and protection have been denied in the past.