Promoting a passion for justice within our church and churches.

Providing prophetic Disciples leadership to ecumenical and interfaith coalitions.

Working with other people of faith and conscience to build the Beloved Community envisioned by Dr. King.

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Saturday, May 09, 2020

Proctor Conference Statement on the State-Sanctioned Killing of Ahmaud Arbery

Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Inc.
Statement on State-Sanctioned Killing of Ahmaud Arbery

Today, the General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Iva E. Carruthers, and the Board of Trustees of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Inc. (SDPC) join the protests over the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia, and add that though the two men who are accused of his killing have finally been arrested, the fact that it took two months for the arrests to occur is deeply troubling.

“It is unconscionable and unacceptable that young Arbery was killed in cold blood,” said Dr. Carruthers, “adding yet another lawless killing to the number of those similarly killed in our communities. While the two men accused of the crime have finally been arrested, the fact that some in Georgia are already citing that the state’s citizen’s arrest laws are justification for their actions is sending alarm bells throughout our community. Those laws, like ‘stand your ground’ laws, have resulted in too many killers of black people being set free.”

“While we are praying for Ahmaud’s family and friends, we also pray for the strength of the black community to fight the ongoing racism which continues to assault our communities. There is no excuse for what happened to Ahmaud Arbery, Dreasjon Reed (shot by police in Indianaoplis, Indiana) or any other shooting deaths of unarmed black people by law enforcement or self-appointed vigilantes. We, like the prophet Isaiah, ask ‘How long?’ How long must black people in this country endure assaults by racism and racist policies? Our lives matter, but this justice system makes a mockery of that claim,” she continued.

Black people have been at the mercy of law enforcement and vigilantes for decades. In 2015, the Washington Post launched a “real time database” to “record and analyze shootings of black people by on-duty police officers.” In their four-year study, they recorded 4400 fatal shootings, and a 2015 article in The Atlanticrevealed that since 1980, 260,000 black men had been killed in America.

“In all too many of these cases,” said Dr. Carruthers, “victims are relegated to criminals: Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Jordan Davis, Eric Garner, Botham Jean – and now, Ahmaud Arbery and Dreasjon Reed – and are killed either by law enforcement officers or vigilantes, and even when indictments against the perpetrators were brought, the killers were, more often than not, acquitted. Our people are not safe anywhere. What we continually see when these killings occur is the system blaming the victims for their own deaths,” she furthered.

“This country has prided itself on being a “nation of laws,” added Rev. Dr. Frederick D. Haynes III, Co-Chair of SDPC Board of Trustees, “but it is clear that its belief in honoring laws and in securing justice when laws are broken does not apply and has never applied to African Americans in these un-united states of America.”

SDPC, a 501c3 and a United Nations Non-Governmental Organization, has a network of thousands of congregations across the nation. “We exist to empower our congregations, our communities and our people,” said Carruthers. “It is up to us to find a way, yet again, to get through the grief that comes from being black in a country which still dehumanizes us. We know better than to look to the federal government or to the courts for support,” she said. “If this is what ‘taking America back’ looks like, then God’s damnation will surely follow.”

“Dr. King spoke of the complicity of silence; it was true then and it’s true now,” said Dr. Haynes, “All of America needs to look at the blood on its hands.” 

Acknowledging that in addition to the shooting of both Ahmaud Arbery and Dreasjon Reed, black lives are being disproportionately lost due to COVID-19. “There is an even greater need for the work being done by the SDPC. We pray that justice will be done. We stand with all who are protesting around the globe against this latest assault on our community. We will not be quiet, nor will we be still,” said Dr. Carruthers.