“Remember, now, that the State has only one power it can use against human beings: death. The State can persecute you, prosecute you, imprison you, exile you, execute you. All of these mean the same thing. The State can consign you to death. The grace of Jesus Christ in this life is that death fails. There is nothing the State can do to you, or to me, which we need fear.”–William Stringfellow (Second Birthday)
(Video photography and Editing: Travis Houze)
Here’s a taste of the devastating testimonial given at a demonstration last night in Columbia Heights, D.C., by two young African-American women, Erica and Hadaiyah Ya-Ya Bey, from D.C., on their return from Ferguson, MO, where there have been nearly two weeks of demonstrations against the police regarding the murder by the police of Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American man, on Aug. 9 and rising questions of police responsibility, police brutality, militarization of police, and more. (You might recognize the woman in the white shirt in the opening section.)
Ya-Ya said through her tears, “The first night that we got there … it was 8:30 and the police started gassing and shooting. And Erica, Erica was my partner down there, we were running from bullets and I was right behind her. Maybe a few feet behind her. And a white man ran around the corner in between us and punched me in my face … and told me to ‘sit the F down.’ Uhhhm, that’s why I have this black eye …”
This is what the principality and power of death looks like when it is “at home, rather than at work in Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Gaza, Afghanistan, Egypt, or the Corrections Corporation of America. It has no problem using whatever tools are at its disposal to crush the souls — and sometimes bodies — of living human beings.
The prophet Jeremiah spoke about this mechanism of Empire and what it does to those who are righteous and trying to live in the land: “For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, ‘Peace, peace’, when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:13-14).–Rose Berger