Young Adventists Join #BlackLivesMatter Protests

(system) #1

On December 3, when a grand jury did not indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo for causing the death of an unarmed black man, Eric Garner, people in cities across the United States, and later, around the world, took to the streets to protest. Pantaleo's non-indictment, following close on the heels of the non-indictment of Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Michael Brown, a black teen in Ferguson, Missouri, dominated social media. Twitter hashtags #BlackLivesMatter, #HandsUpDontShoot, and #ICantBreathe are trending nation-wide.

Adventists joined the many marchers who demonstrated against police brutality and racial injustice.

On Friday, December 5, students at Oakwood University demonstrated in Huntsville, Alabama. Oakwood University officials issued the following statement on the university website:

We are deeply saddened by the recent losses of life that raise serious questions about justice and human rights. This is a deeply emotional time and these events have triggered a myriad of feelings with our students, faculty, and staff.

We understand that some of our Oakwood students along with other students have been involved in the organizing of a demonstration (#ShutItDownHSV) for December 5, at 4:30 p.m. We support the rights of our students to peacefully protest. However, we are deeply concerned about the safety and well-being of our students and anyone else who has planned to participate. We do not support the breaking of traffic laws and ask every Oakwood student, “If you choose to participate, to do so peacefully and lawfully, in accordance with the laws of the city of Huntsville.

We also invite students who wish to express themselves, but do not wish to march to join us on Sunday, December 7, at 5:00 p.m. in Moran Hall to help assemble an action plan for how Oakwood students can support the mission of creating “One Huntsville.”

Later that evening, after 200-300 students marched through the streets of Huntsville amid light rain with signs and placards, and chanting "Hands Up, Don't Shoot," OU president Dr. Leslie Pollard issued a statement on the university website as well. He said,

Tonight I stood among our students as they made their voices heard. I marched with them. I felt their unrest. I could sense that they wanted change and equality. As I looked at their faces, I couldn't help but think how this experience would change them forever. Being able to protest for change is a beautiful thing. And we are proud of how they conducted themselves in the midst of their pain and anger.

We want to thank Oakwood University Police Department and Huntsville Police Department for their service tonight as our students peacefully made their way down the streets of Huntsville.

Our forward movement doesn't stop here. We invite students who wish to express themselves regarding the recent issues to join us on Sunday, December 7, at 5:00 p.m. in Moran Hall to help assemble an action plan for how Oakwood students can support the mission of creating “One Huntsville.”

Dr. Pollard posted pictures on Twitter of his five-month-old granddaughter at the demonstration, and of students staging a "Die In," laying on the ground in the middle of University Drive as if dead.

At the Huntsville OU Student demonstration was the littlest protester--my 5 month-old granddaughter. PTL

— Leslie Pollard (@LesPollard) December 6, 2014

Black Lives Matter--at the Oakwood demonstration for justice in Huntsville!

— Leslie Pollard (@LesPollard) December 5, 2014

Matt Kroschel of WHNT News 19 tweeted a photo of Oakwood students in a large circle praying before the start of their demonstration.

Protesters praying before march, Wynn to University begins. "We are here to say this not OK" #ShutItDownHSV @whnt

— Matt Kroschel (@Matt_Kroschel) December 5, 2014

According to various reports, demonstrations were peaceful, and despite a large police presence, no arrests were made.

In Michigan on Saturday, hundreds of students at Andrews University marched two miles from campus to the Berrien Springs Police Department, chanting and singing "We are soldiers/In the army/We have to fight/Although we have to die". When they arrived at the police station, they observed silence for a period signifying the time Michael Brown lay dead in the street after being shot to death.

Speaking to WSBT 22, a local CBS affiliate, Andrews University associate chaplain Michael Polite said, “What’s going on in these major cities, yea, it’s affecting us too even though we’re attending school in a rural area.”

Andrews University students faculty & staff came together to show that #BlackLivesMatter #BreakTheWalls #IcantBreathe

— Ciao Bella (@_broshemalawian) December 7, 2014

According to the WSBT report, Andrews students prayed and thanked police officers, noting that many police officers were being tarnished by the brutality of a minority of officers.

In an invitation to the protest march, Chaplain Polite used the hashtag #BreakTheWalls and recommended students dress in all black. Black clothing has been characteristic of #BlackOut events all throughout the United States.

Also on Saturday, Adventists from the Allegheny West Conference met in cold weather at the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio for a day of prayer led by Pastor John T. Boston II of the Central Seventh-day Adventist Church and Allegheny West pastors from Columbus. Evangelist/Pastor Marquis Johns of the Metropolitan Adventist Church in Hyattsville, Maryland was a guest speaker at the event. Organizers of the prayer event also used Twitter to organize, and used the hashtag #ColumbusWeStand. In communication with Spectrum, Pastor Boston said, "As spiritual leaders, we gathered to meet anger with calm and protest with prayer. It is our desire to begin the process of reconciliation and trust. This begins with prayer."

Organizers of the prayer event also used Twitter to organize, and used the hashtag #ColumbusWeStand. The Columbus Dispatch wrote that approximately 100 demonstrators joined the event. According to the article, the gathering disperced after police arrived with lights flashing and threatened to cite the demonstrators for blocking bus lanes and parking improperly. However, no citations were issued, according to the story.

Jared Wright is managing editor of

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Tom Loop) #2

This is great thing the folks at the Metropolitan SDA church are doing. I almost said Metroplitan Community Church. Oh well, I think i’ll just leave what my first thought about what church it was when i saw the word “metropolitan.” I think I’ll wear my black sweatshirt today. It’s the only black top I have. I certainly stand in solidarity with those folks.

(Steve Mga) #3

Stupid Laws.
Is it stupid laws on the books of cities, counties, states that make criminals out of normally law abiding citizens?
Take the problem with Eric Garner. He was probably a law abiding citizen. He was financially disadvantaged, had a wife and a number of children. All he was doing was selling individual cigarettes on the sidewalk to other people like him. Was he “harming” anyone. To look at him, No.
However, the proprieters of the “smoke shops” he was near DID see him as a Criminal. For one thing he was interrupting their business of selling cigarettes. He did NOT have a City Business License to sell goods. He was not paying State Cigarette Sales Taxes, nor was he probably going to pay city, county, state and federal taxes on his Income. So, when the Smoke Shop owners called the police, they saw him as a Criminal already. Needing to be taken to the jail house, booked and fingerprinted for Breaking The Law. A natural reaction on Eric’s part WOULD BE, “I am not a criminal”, I dont need to be arrested. Unfortunately, he was not heard, he was not listened to. And that is where the conflict came, and physical conflict ensued. And ended in tragic results.

Does anyone recall the story about the elementary school age little girl who set up a Lemonade Stand on her side walk? A perfectly Law Abiding little girl from the perfect Law Abiding family? She was raising money for some type of cause. She became a Criminal because of local laws requiring her to go to the court house, pay a huge sum for a Business License before she could sell her lemonade to her neighbors and make a couple of dollars for her project.

A huge problem with many laws on the books when enforced without regard to reasonableness is that it makes Criminals out of normally law abiding citizens. When the Laws were made, they seemed Reasonable to everyone on the Voting Committee [city, county, state, federal] and they are to be enforced impartially by unfeeling persons.
Perhaps THIS is where the Injustice lies. There is NO ROOM for exceptions. No room for Eric to sell single cigarettes on the street. No room for a little elementary school child to sell Lemonade on her sidewalk to raise a few dollars for a class room project.
LAW ENFORCEMENT persons are caught in the middle. THEY are Not Allowed to look the other way, or to maybe even “bless” the person in their endeavor to make a difference when someone [a law abiding citizen] makes a complaint.

Demonstrating Against Injustice is good. BUT in our enthusiasm against Injustice, we need to evaluate WHERE the Real problem is and Not just the Perceived problem is. It is not necessarily the Police. It may lie in HOW laws are perceived to be enforced. Making Criminals out of normally Law Abiding Citizens.

The Michael Brown story is a whole different type of event. He was a Criminal. Not hiding his theft. Abusing the owner of the store before leaving. And allegedly being a physical threat to the police man. Apparently this was common behavior for him in the past.

(Kevin Paulson) #4

Speaking as a former student body president and campus newspaper editor, I am truly proud of Adventist young people for peacefully yet decidedly demonstrating their passion for justice.

(Tom Loop) #5


You make some excellent points. I remember the day when policemen where suppose to be keepers of the peace and not mere law enforcers. Discretion was used in “enforcing” the law, to take into account the situation at hand. A lemon aid stand and selling loose cigarettes doesn’t rise to the level of an offense worth bothering with, when more serious issues like robbery, rape and murder abound in our cities. It’s called common sense, which seems to be lacking a lot these days.

But looking at the flip side of the coin. In some areas of the country, back when I was a boy, a keeper of the peace in the mind of a racist Bull Connors meant a totally different thing. He turned fire hoses and mad dogs on peaceful protestors. So for that reason today we have law enforcers. With people suing at the drop of a hat, everyone is CYA (covering your ass).
What a mess our society has become. I really feel for those who are victims of over reach of any kind. If all lived by the Golden Rule we wouldn’t have these problems.

(Elaine Nelson) #6

It does not got unnoticed by the poor that the far larger tax evaders are seldom, if ever punished. They read of bank CEO and financial houses who flagrantly violate the laws and if any punishment, it is only a slap on the wrist.

All those who love justice should be protesting in whatever way they can: physical presence, letters to papers and congressmen to let your voice be heard. This latest homicide of Garner was the last straw and the DOJ plans to bring their own charges. We have not heard the last; there are law suits in the works.

(Tom Loop) #7

Well Kevin, I see I can finally see something you say that I can wholeheartedly agree with. Now how about retracting the use of the word murder on another blog on Spectrum. It was an over reach wouldn’t you say.
C’mom I ate some crow for making a mistake, when I finally realized I had made a mistake. Humility is more convincing than pride, I figure.

(Sirje) #8

As they say, “the devil is in the details”. All you say is true in my humble opinion as well. There is a problem, however, in comparing the Micheal Brown incident and the one on NYC.

It’s come to the place now, that whenever there is a white on black death, the cry of racial prejudice is automatically declared to be the cause and riots ensue. Especially when white police are involved - it’s automatic. In New York, some, if not most, of the police were black. According to the video, it looks like overzealous police reaction; but there are voices out there that get off on causing as much mayhem as possible and we get these catch phrases “hands up” and “I’m choking” - triggers for more riots.

It appears that there is at least a 50/50 probability that “hands up, don’t shoot” never happened, according to at least 5 black eyewitness accounts. The original report of that ever happening was from the guy who was with Michael Brown in the store, roughing up the owner. But who’s going to listen to details at this point. It makes one wonder how many bogus “facts” in the past have been chronicled into history.

(le vieux) #9

The problem in the Garner case wasn’t the law. Cigarettes are a taxable item, and the government has the right to expect those taxes to be collected. The real issue was an overzealous cop and and Grand Jury which must have had a collective moment of insanity. A simple citation and a fine would have taken care of it; no arrest was necessary.

(David Read) #10

We do have a lot of stupid laws, and regulations, on the books. We’ve sat around as our freedom has been gradually taken from us. Remember the expression “it’s a free country” and notice how no one uses it anymore because it is so painfully not true?

And yet, stupid laws or no, we expect the police to display some basic common sense in how those laws are enforced. I’m completely in favor of police officers being police officers. I’m not in favor of them being prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner. Selling loose cigarettes doesn’t warrant the death penalty.

(David Read) #11

Anyone notice how, after 6 years of the first black president in American history, we’re more racially divided than we’ve been in 40 years? In a way that would have been simply unimaginable six years ago? Alas, many contemporary realities in Obama’s America would have been unimaginable six years ago.

(Carolyn Parsons) #12

We haven’t just sat around while it happens; since 9/11 we have been almost begging for it. The public was stunned and responded beyond all logic by being so risk adverse that they were willing to exchange freedoms in exchange for a sense of security.

The militarization of the police is part and parcel of this risk aversion. The police started dong active shooter drills and engaging in more combat style trainning. At my last workplace at a fortune 200 company the entire campus was shut down as a “sniper” was on top of the building I worked in. The police had armored vehicles that they had bought with Homeland Security grants. With this military mentality comes more aggression, more of an “us versus them” culture.

I know what it is like to have a relative who died during an encounter with the police. He struggled many years with mental illness and was behaving wildly when his wife called the police because she was scared. When the police arrived they escalated the situation instead of trying to get control of it. He was tased and ran into a nearby pond to get away. There he had a heart attack and died.

(Austinarcher) #13

No David. We are no more racially divided than we were before the election of Mr Obama. Obama’s election was seen by many as a signal that we are now “post-racial”. That was never a realistic expectation. I do find that one segment of the population has begun to notice racial division recently. And I wonder why! May it be that the presence of a president in the White House who is non-white has made race more salient to them? White cops have been killing unarmed black men for years. Have we only now noticed?

(Elaine Nelson) #14

Has anyone noticed that during this current president’s administration there have been more jobs added that at any time with the previous two presidents? And fewer unemployed?

But what is the correlation between increased racial division and the president? Correlation is not necessarily causation. Also, on what figures are you making the determination that there is inreased racial division? How is that statistically determined?

It could be attributed to the increased militarization of equipment given many police forces who have adopted their use in more warlike manner, and the more rapid use of fatal force in subduing victims without adequate evidence.

(Interested Friend) #15

How true and one wonders whether the mission of the SDA church is enhanced through demonstrations, peaceful though they may be, by entities of the church and the president of the college. I’m not at all impressed and even some “worldly” commentators are questioning the value of stoking the racial divide.

A Black man makes sense:

(Warren Ruf) #16

A Black man walking down a street carrying a sign, “Black men matter,” is no different from a White man walking down a street carrying a sign, “White men matter.” But someone walking down a street with a sign, “All men matter,” and you’ve got my attention.

(Elaine Nelson) #17

Unmentioned in all these comments are these facts: Out of all police killings, only one policeman was indicted, but never served time. The Police force investigates their own; The FBI also investigates their own shootings; and the Border Patrol–no one knows as they are not reported.

Check the facts: if all the homicides in a community had such investigations, criminals would not worry about apprehension.

In the Garner case, it was the prosecutor who presented the case to the grand jury, which should not have happened. Prosecutors’ goal is to convict. The presentation should have come from an impartial source. Imagine if a defense attorney had presented the case?

(Winona Winkler Wendth) #18

This is, in part, what Prof. Fulton was talking about: Protest the rules, but don’t cause a ruckus. Sometimes this works, sometimes, not. And, of course, Oakwood students are . . . of African descent, by and large, so campus leadership don’t want to put their charges in a situation of that could be regarded as “resisting arrest.” He is caring for his students. That said, he should review both Howard Zinn, who had been a professor at Spelman, let alone Henry Thoreau, on Civil Disobedience. Express outrage and political conviction, but don’t break traffic laws?

(George Tichy) #20

It only shows that America was not ready for a black President. And I am not sure whether it will ever be ready for such.

Now, is it just my impression or are you actually insinuating that the increase of racial tension is Obama’s fault?

(George Tichy) #21

Soon someone will suggest that it is also “Obama’s fault!”