‘Mind the Gap’

Protesters march toward police lines in Milwaukee.
REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

The Rev. Tony Bleything, rector of Christ Redeemer Anglican Church (ACNA) in Milwaukee, reflects on violence that erupted after Sylville Smith, 23, was shot by a Milwaukee police officer on Aug. 13:

Honestly, I feel tempted to align myself with those in the minority, the African American community. But I’m also concerned about the temptation to be ‘caught up’ in the moment. The expression of violence by many of the younger residents manifested in rioting, setting fires, shooting of guns, rolling cars, pulling white people from their cars because they are white … it is appalling. Yet, it is just as appalling to see our civil servants dressed in riot gear, which only escalates an already volatile situation, and hearing that our governor not only activated the national guard but also released them into action on Sunday night.

My challenge as a priest is to remain a non-anxious presence. My challenge as a priest is to ‘mind the gap,’ stand in the tension and call for peace and calm from both parties. If I align myself with one party to strongly, I minimize my voice with the other. On the other hand, Jesus’ first sermon proclaimed: ‘liberty to the captives’ and ‘liberty to those who are oppressed.’ In 1st century Palestine, Israel was captive to the Roman occupation. There was a very explicit oppressor. In the United States, historically the oppression of African Americans has also been very overt, and at times encouraged.

Read the rest at christredeemermke.org.

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