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The National Council of Churches (NCC) is grieved and deeply disturbed by the acts of violence that have been perpetrated against two unarmed African American men reported this week, even as most of the nation has remained at home sheltering in place. These incidents have reinforced the urgent need for us to address racism and white supremacy. The evil that results from racial hatred is exactly this: Black bodies lying dead in the streets.

NCC calls for justice in the death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, a young man shot dead by two white men while jogging through a neighborhood just outside Brunswick, Georgia. While we acknowledge the arrests of the two men implicated in this case, we are deeply concerned that it took a public outcry for the wheels of justice to begin turning. We continue our calls for justice to be served in this modern-day lynching.

“It took two months after the killing of Ahmaud Ambery for his killers to be arrested and face charges,” said Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer, Chair of the NCC Governing Board. “I am outraged. You have to be some kind of racist not to be. When two white men park up the road and wait to kill an unarmed black man and it’s on tape and they aren’t in jail – we have all the evidence we need of racism at work.”

As protests were taking place on Thursday over this killing, Dreasjon (Sean) Reed, 21, was shot and killed by Indianapolis police who fired 13 bullets, most after he fell helplessly to the ground. This horrible incident was streamed as it was happening on Facebook, where one of the detectives can be heard taunting the dying Reed, saying, “Think it’s going to be a closed casket, homie.”

According to Jim Winkler, NCC President and General Secretary, “Our history is marred with 400 years of slavery, racism, and lynchings that include far too many incidents like these. Now, we have these unprovoked and grotesque murders in broad daylight. We demand justice.”

The NCC will remain vigilant in addressing these issues and calling out these situations when they occur, and will be following these cases to ensure that justice prevails. We join with the families in mourning the loss of Ahmaud’s and Sean’s lives and surround them with prayers for comfort as we work for a world free of racism.

…learn to do good;
seek justice,
rescue the oppressed,
defend the orphan,
plead for the widow.

-Isaiah 1:17 NRSV