Until there is legal accountability for Ferguson police officer Daren Wilson, the word "reconciliation" will be toxic in Ferguson. One of the most common chants that I heard on the streets is: "No Justice, No Peace...We Don't Need No Racist Police."
As I see it, the only way the black community is going to forgive the City of Ferguson, is if the City of Ferguson acknowledges in public that it needs forgiveness. This apology must be more than an official statement or even a town hall forum on PBS. Asking forgiveness will require that every Ferguson police officer and government official involved in years of systemic abuse commit themselves to an arduous process of inner transformation work that will allow them to see the world as being gifted by a diversity of colors, attitudes, and cultures. Until the members of the police force view it as their duty to serve and protect this sacred diversity the pain and disenfranchisement in urban communities like Greater St. Louis will grow more persistent and violent as time drags on.
The call to "shut shit down" is not, therefore, a declaration of anarchy but a loud and unambiguous demand for systemic change. Last year alone the City of Ferguson issued over 15,000 warrants to black citizens. There are more warrants issued in Ferguson to black people than there are black people who live in Ferguson. Why? To fill the jails and create an extremely lucrative industry propelled by extracting labor from humans in bondage. This system is executed by those in uniforms but sustained and sanctioned by institutional racism.
The real question in Ferguson is the same one being asked in cities and towns across America. Can we embrace the amazing gift that God has given us? Or is there too much scar tissue in our eyes... too many ulcers and not enough seeing with liquidity? To see with liquidity means to flow when society tries to paralyze and sink us with its stereotypes. To see with liquidity means to renew and return again when solutions seem to have dried out and people have disappeared. Whenever we are operating from the wellspring of our eternal hope, we are seeing with the sight of liquid forgiveness. Ever flowing and always rejuvenating, this liquid brings new possibilities from underneath the surfaces where things are most volcanic and dangerous.
Seeing the world with the eyes of liquidity is what Ferguson police officers must commit themselves to. For this sight is the true reward of both service and resistance. If the resistance mounted by protestors ends with the conviction of officer Wilson and a restructuring of police protocol, the movement will have accomplished major goals. To the everlasting credit of the young people leading this movement, they have challenged unjust laws with the proven tactics of militant nonviolent civil resistance in the Kingian tradition. But in the Kingian tradition the final stage of a movement is always the pursuit of reconciliation. There is a cruel blindness that takes over when we start looking for God "out there" or "in here." All along God is "right here." God wore the face of Micheal Brown and Vonderrit Myers. When Darren Wilson was born he was gifted with the same face.
On Moral Monday I saw dozens of pastors, rabbis, priests, theologians, and other faith leaders offering to hear the mostly unspoken confessions of the predominantly white police officers. I knew this day was something more than a compelling display of nonviolent street theater designed to shame the Ferguson authorities in front of national journalists. Those who participated in Moral Monday were committing themselves to apprehend the face of their Creator in the eyes of their enemies. Likewise, the young people of St. Louis and Ferguson are on the verge of changing an unjust system through the power of courageous love. They will not only bring justice to the families of Micheal Brown and other victims of gun violence, they will also bring healing to their community.
There is a massive underground network of activists and social justice reformers who are listening and taking notes. The revolution will not be televised! It can not be seen by those who refuse to grasp its' real purpose.
There is something happening in St. Louis.