Prayers After Another Black Veteran Kills Cops
By Brenda Ann Eckels, aMGC

This was originally published at the Facebook Group: Not All Catholics Are Roman, But All Catholics Are One (NACAR for short) after the second episode.

Today, a Black mental health professional was shot by police and his autistic client was traumatized. Again, the anger, sadness, again I pray.

I realized many of the points I made in the original post are still valid. We who are people of faith must join the peaceful, non violent protest movement, even if by doing so we become targets of hate. Black people, Autistic people, poor people, and good honest cops who can be whistleblowers need us. We must break this country’s addiction to guns and violence and replace it with Love and Mutual Earned Respect.

Original post:

My prayers today were with and for our nation, for those Black Veterans who are struggling with mental health issues and the feeling they are a target of police brutality.

My prayers were for all the good cops, some of whom have been speaking out, who feel trapped in departments where hire ups and unions have turned a blind eye to the rotten apples for so long.

The voice of a fatherless 15 year old pleas for peaceful protest, but neither the good cops afraid to push for justice or the Black Veterans who came home from one war to land in another are going to be helped much by that teenager’s plea.

The answer has to include clergy, ministers, and religious stepping into the line of fire on all three sides to provide the spiritual and moral compass for change.

#BackTheBlue is just a slogan unless we ACT. Police Chaplains need reinforcements, a lot of them. The culture of “shoot first” has to change from inside, and only will happen with having a way to vent, to let anger, hate, racism go. It is a moral problem, a spiritual problem, just as much as a cultural, training, and mass media manipulation problem.

#BlackLivesMatter needs figures like Ghandi, MLK. They must have spiritual guides who can profoundly and clearly expound on the importance of nonviolence. The Black, White, and other humans involved in BLM have seen and been victims of such horrific discrimination, abuse, and harassment they are very much like a puppy who has been beaten one two many times – quick to growl, bite back, to return each hurt with another hurt. The transformation of the movement into the much more powerful nonviolent massive force is still being held back because of the lack of spiritual guides at the top.

Black Veterans need experienced Military Chaplains to lead, to speak out. Dallas and this most recent shooting were carried out by Our American Hero’s, our soldiers, who came home just like their fathers from Vietnam to find a atmosphere so toxic to Black Americans in general, but especially to Black men they fell back into battle mode. Can we blame them? VA mental health services are still horribly underfunded, a trip to the corner store can mean death to them, and they were trained to kill humans who abuse, harass, and kill innocent civilians….you change those instincts, that training, by opening up an opportunity for dialogue, for channeling that anger, fear, frustration into positive non violent action backed by spiritual mission.

The answer has to include an concerted effort to get experienced mental health professionals in a boots on the ground effort to seek out EVERY Black Veteran, to help them work through the frustration, the anger, and the training to kill when attacked.

The answer also has to include the missing piece: holding Police who do cross the line to the same standards the Black community faces:

The officer who shot the unarmed man sitting in the seat of a car, in front of a child…he needs to be taken off paid administrative leave and he needs to be charged, arrested. The same with the officers who shot a confused possibly suicidal 19 year old black man 4 times. The more weeks that go by that not a single killer cop is treated as a killer, the harder it will get to have any faith that police departments really are trying to change.

We as Catholics, we can pray.

We Catholics can speak up when media, politicians, or bloggers try to paint this as one “war on cops” when the reality is much more complex.

We who are Catholic clergy or religious can get some training in this complex problem, and go to that march, or walk alongside a police officer in a city like Baton Rouge.

Catholic Clergy and religious with past military experience can volunteer at the VA in Black communities to work one on one knocking on the doors of Black Veterans to check in on them, to offer someone to talk to, to perhaps identify that Vet who is struggling right now.

What else can we do?

What concrete steps can laity, for instance, take to help Black Veterans, Police, and the activists in #blacklivesmatter to choose nonviolent protest, non-gun police tactics, and better mental health crisis assessment and support?

We pray, which is very important.

We Catholics can set an example by NOT treating a black man like a threat, but as a human.

We Catholics can support our police, but not create idols out of them, knowing they too are human.

We Catholics can advocate and contribute financially, for help on a large scale for Black Veterans….

Are we missing anything? Any even small effort?

That was my final prayer today. That God inspires us with new ideas of how to love all three groups through this crisis.

I welcome any thoughts, ideas, or stories any members may have….

Goodnight, and please Take Care,
Brenda Eckels Burrows, aMGC