United Church Outreach Ministry (UCOM) Declares Black Lives Matter
June 2nd, 2020
We servants of the community at United Church Outreach Ministry (UCOM) are angered, appalled and devastated at the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, who, while kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck, ignored his repeated pleas of “I can’t breathe.” We are similarly appalled by the killings of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky. These are recent horrifying reminders of the dangers Black Americans face in living their daily lives.
Black Americans are too often denied basic privileges that others take for granted. Not just the privileges of wealth, education or job opportunities, but basic human and civil rights and the dignity and respect that comes with them.
As long as systemic racism permeates the atmosphere no black person is safe anywhere in this country.
UCOM agrees that “silence is complicity” and we believe it is our prophetic position to say clearly that black lives matter and that we are charged to extend and protect human rights—including the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—at all costs.
UCOM stands by our core values of community, faith and respect for others.
We decry the inequitable treatment of protestors by police with tear gas and other violent means exacerbating an already tense situation. This is especially true since police maintained such a stoic presence when armed white people shut down our state legislature.
Every form of violence is a violation of the conscience of caring people. Though 3,000 to 4,500 people protested in Grand Rapids, their good, rightly angry and sad, demonstration was hijacked by a few people acting out their own agendas through violent, destructive and selfish behavior. We were gratified to see many of the protestors among the hundreds who came on Sunday to clean up the mess left by vandals.
Our commitment as an agency for good in our community is to do all in our power to work with individuals and community groups to face white privilege and to dismantle systemic racism through non-violent measures. We demand more equitable treatment, a living wage for every job, health care reform, affordable housing, more empathetic immigration laws, and a better economic safety net for everyone.
We pledge to continue to listen to our Black leaders and teachers and to speak up as needed to amplify often unheard voices. None of us can afford to be silent. Until Black people are free and respected in our community and our country, none of us is free.