Northeastern Conference President Issues Statement on Eric Garner Homicide

(system) #1

Daniel Honoré, the president of the Northeastern Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, released the following public statement on the death of black New York resident Eric Garner by a police officer.

December 5, 2014


The Bible teaches us the "righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people". Proverbs 14:34

For millions of New Yorkers this was an anxious week. Many patiently awaited the results of a grand jury inquiry into the death of Staten Island resident, Eric Garner. The failure to indict the police officer, who is clearly seen on video applying the banned chokehold procedure on the victim, as he pleaded for his life, is a tremendous disappointment to millions of law-abiding citizens. There is a sense that justice has eluded us and that certain lives are valued less than others.

As I think of my own sons and the thousands of minority youths whose spiritual home is the Northeastern Conference, I cannot but be compelled to join our voice to those crying out for a more just society. I join those calling on the Federal Government to conduct its own investigation into the death of an unarmed black man. The Word of God urges us "Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause". (Isaiah 1:17)

I call on our Pastors and lay leaders to speak up respectably in support of the safety and vicil rights of our young men and women. Engage the youth of your church and community in discussion, action and prayer. We encourage your participation in public forums, marches and non-violent events in which Seventh-day Adventists can speak up for peace and justice without compromising our religious convictions.

May the Lord bless you and keep you as you "do justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly before God".


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Winona Winkler Wendth) #2

This is a smart, well-written, compassionate, and politically realistic statement. Good. Although I may be mistaken, I don’t remember the Northeastern Conference presenting this kind of advice to its constituents during the 1960s, so this counts as a great step in the right direction.

(Carol June Hooker) #3

Thank you, Pastor Honore’.

(Kevin Paulson) #4

A powerful, articulate, beautiful statement from my colleague in ministry, Pastor Daniel Honore.

Speaking as one who served for ten years as a pastor/evangelist in the Greater New York Conference, I was horrified and heartbroken by the murder—for I cannot in conscience use any other word—of Eric Garner in Staten Island. This is but the latest of events in our land which call to mind the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Justice standeth afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter” (Isa. 59:14).

I join Brother Honore in praying for peace, reform, and equity in our criminal justice system. May the voices of God’s people be heard issuing such a call—and even more importantly, may our lives and practices as God’s representatives be a model of how Heaven loves and values every human being.

(Rheticus) #5

I watched the second video…

and looked at the people’s commentary on it. Commentary says “Garner would die an hour later” - although it appears he cardiac arrested in the ambulance and was merely pronounced an hour later.

The behavior of the police and EMS and the words that may be from Garner as he lies on his side do not suggest that the choke hold was the immediate cause of death - the cardiac arrest in the ambulance may have been caused by a breathing problem or a myocardial ischemia, and the breathing problem could have had several causes. The violence of the arrest and the positioning on the ground and during transport may have been the cause, or even just bad luck.

Calling it a murder when you don’t have access to all the facts is jumping to a conclusion. We have grand juries for a reason - to stop court cases when there is no reasonable chance of a conviction. That the grand jury refused to indict after looking at all the evidence - especially one that was 3/4 non-white - should cause you to think twice about accusing the officers of murder.

(Kevin Paulson) #6

Some in the media have rightly noted that while a chokehold might not in fact have been used, excessive force was certainly used. And it was the result of that excessive force that caused Garner’s death. Without the police action, Garner would be still alive.

Another point that has been noted is that the offense of which Garner was accused was not even an arrestable offense. Selling untaxed cigarettes could only merit a fine of some sort. Action of the kind seen in this video would only have been appropriate if a violent offense had been either suspected or committed.

(Rheticus) #7

Again you, an unqualified uninformed outsider, are making a judgment call best left to the informed grand jury or other experts.

yes, feel free to insist that such a group be given the job of making a judgment, but second-guessing them is a step towards mob “justice”

(Steve Mga) #8

Sudden stress, much like occurred with the police, can cause stress on body organs like heart and lungs. Years ago I had a friend come to my ER, he was a slim, active 36 year old complaining of chest discomfort. EKG showed he was in the middle of a heart attack. Fortunately we were able to give him a clot buster by IV and possibly saved his life.
There are a lot of people walking around with 80, 90% clogged arteries and until some stressful exertion occurs, have no life threatening symptoms, but with sudden stress ventricular fibrillation, or even cardiac arrest can occur and take them out.

(Rheticus) #9

Alternatively there is the possibility of stress-induced Asthma/COPD leading to a CHF flash - and he is so large that could be hard to manage with the limited resources in a moving ambulance.

The facts including the full medical report must have been available to the grand jury.

There are so many possibilities here that I am more than willing to accept the grand jury decision.

The bottom line, in many of these deaths, is stop resisting arrest. Go peaceably to the police station. Sue their asses off using the legal system if they did something inappropriate.

(Tom Loop) #10

I really don’t know what to say here. Certainly my heart wants to go with what this conference president has said, but I must also question his use of the term MURDER. Certainly the video shows he had Cantor in a lock of somekind. My son and I got in a scirmish about ten years ago , over his calling me a filthy name. He got me in a choke hold and I passed out. I could never have said I can’t breath as many times as Eric Gardner did. It sounds more like he had him in a head lock, not a choke hold. Perhaps his weight and medical problems did contribute to his untimely death. The bottom line is the officer overracted to the offense committed.

I was also a member of a Grand Jury a decade ago… I can tell you evidence is examined in a very careful way and rendered hopefully dispassionately. But in such a racially charged artmosphere everything seems to go up in smoke these days.
True to form Al Sharpton leaped at the chance to jump on another soapbox by trying to eulogize Eric Canter at his funeral, without even knowing him. His mother told him to stay away. Good for her. The last thing a family needs as they mourn, is to be used as political fodder by a demogog the likes of Al Sharpton.

(Tom Loop) #11


Did you even listen to or look at what bbr presented sink in before you responded. Your use of the word MURDER is way out of bounds. Shouldn’t you at least retract that, sirrrr? I read what bbr presented from Newsmax after I commented above.

(Randle Patrick) #12

Has anybody dialed “1844” and received a response in an emergency?

(jeremy) #13

is anyone noticing that all the unarmed black fatalities at the hands of armed white police officers occurring lately would likely not have occurred had those black unarmed men not resisted arrest…why do people resist arrest…even if there is disagreement over whether one should be arrested, isn’t it better to submit to the arrest, and then have a judge sort it out later…what advantage is there in entering into a struggle with a professional fighter who is part of an entire force, and who is always armed with a gun…what are the chances of an untrained, unarmed person coming out on top with a trained, armed police officer with multiple back-ups…

as i’m following all these stories, there seems to be such a disconnect…white police officers believe they’re doing what they need to do to arrest someone resisting arrest and defend their lives…the black community, on the other hand, is convinced that it is being systematically killed simply for being black…there can’t be two sets of facts coming out of each and every situation…there must be some way to prove who’s right…

(Tom Loop) #14

You asked if I ever dialed 1844 and received a response in an emergency.

Yes, I did once, crying I was being scapegoated. They said they would consider the matter in an investigation, and then render a judgement… I’m still waiting for an answer.

(Winona Winkler Wendth) #15

I pray, too, that what we expect of our police and judicial system is the minimum of what we expect from Denominational leadership, as well. And I commend Elder Honoré for advising his constituents to express what they believe are political injustices through dramatic, disruptive ways through peaceful demonstration. I hope he reminds the women and men in his spiritual family to do the same in San Antonio this summer.

(Winona Winkler Wendth) #16

Elder Honoré didn’t use the word “murder”—“death” is what is in the letter. No one can deny that the young man died at some point, and Honoré was careful in avoiding laying blame. He recognized distress and dissatisfaction and encouraged his constituents to act as they believe is appropriate in a peaceful but demonstrable way. This kind of political activity is not typical of Denominational responses to politics, and that’s what I applaud. The church was so far behind the curve during the Civil Rights activities forty years ago, that many of us were embarrassed; few Denominational leaders recognized the bravery of those who were active during this time, (Terry Roberts, for example, who was one of the “Little Rock Nine”). The “truth” of what happened in this case will never be clear, but peaceful demonstrations against what the populace believes is unfair is a good way to express distress. That, legal action, and voting.

(Warren Ruf) #17

It might be helpful for Spectrum readers to know that Pastor Daniel L. Honore (He is frequently referred to as Doctor) has practiced law in Mass., but I am unsure if he is currently licensed because this is not something he promotes. It is helpful to know he has a background in the law. The statement was written only two days after the grand jury’s announcement. I think he might have toned down the racial theme in his statement if he had known, as NYC news outlets later reported, that one of two NYC police sergeants at the scene of the arrest was an Black woman named Kizzy Adoni. Also a problem for me is the fact that all NYC police officers involved (and there were many), were granted immunity in order to testify against officer Pantaleo. We all want a more just society, but I would not call that legal maneuver justice. We inherited the idea of the grand jury from English common law. While juries can make mistakes, the protests that I have seen in the media remind me of a form of vigilante justice because they are based on a disappointed outcome rather than the rule of law.

(Carol June Hooker) #18

Contributing to a death by overly aggressive action is usually called manslaughter.


Ruby Ridge and Waco. The police in these cases showed no mercy on white people when they resisted arrest. The in-depth coverage of those events was enough to convince me that resisting arrest is not a good idea. We are talking snipers and tanks. A headlock would be much preferred.

(Tom Loop) #20

A thousand apologies!!! You are right, he didn’t say MURDER.! Please give me a towel to wipe the egg off my face. Goes to show one the danger of a reply to a blog, when one reads it and then responds after scanning a few comments. It was Kevin Paulson who first used the term murder.
Oh Kevin. (sigh)
I reread the letter from Pastor Horne. It is terrific.

One side note. Several years ago when our children were young, we were looking for the church in Sacramento, ca. that our friend Doug Batchelor pastored, when we were passing through. Somehow we got our wires crossed and ended up at the Capitol City SDA Church. Doug was the senior pastor of the Central church.

Anyway it didn’t take but a few minutes to see we were in a black church.
We were so warmly welcomed, that we decided to stay. It was a thourghly great experience, so much so that each time we were in Sacramento on Sabbath we went back there. We were the only white family there, except for about 3 other white individuals. Our kids didn’t get bored at all, even though the church service went till 1 o’clock. Now those folks knew how to worship!!! Never felt a shred of racial tension. Exact opposite. We actually felt a kindred spirit. I often wonder how welcoming we are to a person who is the only black person in attendence at an all white church. I know I make a point to make them feel extra welcome.

I am a volunteer classroom grandpa at a K-4 public school 2 niles from where we live. It is mostly white, with about 15% racial minorities. I give extra tlc to those kids, especially two black children out of the 50 kids I am grandpa to in 2 classrooms. The first day a little black girl stiffened as I walked by. I could sense her apprehension of a big 6’6’’ white guy
towering over here. So I knelt down and introduced myself. It has taken a couple months, but I have helped little Talya, a fourth grader, no longer fear me. She is now very relaxed when I help her with schoolwork. This is a great school. Zero tolerance for name calling, bullying. Kids are taught respect, responsiblity, racial equality in the ciriculum, the 3 R’s of life. A banner is posted in the hall “Treat people you meet, like you would want them to treat you.” I am emotionally charged from the 4 hours a day I volunteer at that public school. It’s nice when i see something done right. I love those kids and they love me.