August 22, 2014

How You Can Respond to Ferguson

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 4:50 pm by Rev. Thomas Perchlik

This week I have gotten many requests to help us here in the Saint Louis area. Often the offers have been for donations of food. This is my response.

Thank you so much for your compassionate outreach. You may be happy to know that First U took a food collection last Sunday and all our baskets were filled. We took our collection to St. Stephens and they were very appreciative. Other sites, outside Ferguson, in Saint Louis City and in the city of Florrisant have been selected to receive donations of food, and supplies are being distributed from those places. Another collection of non-food items has been initiated and UU congregations are joining in that.

Yesterday (August 21), all local UU clergy went to a Community Center that is just north of where all the violence took place. It was a crowded, but very mellow, scene. We offered counseling, care, and help carrying supplies to cars. People were getting help with food, utility bill problems, legal services. It was a hopeful event and others are being organized.

Meanwhile, while all the attention is on the people in Ferguson who have been isolated by protests, stores being closed and streets being shut off, there are also poor people all over the metro area who still rely on continued support of food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and services.

I say all this to let you know that this is not a disaster area, but a very active metropolitan community with many resources.

Given the distances involved, if you want to donate to local food pantries, it would be easier for you to send financial resources to be used to purchase needed items. You could send a check to First Unitarian Church of Saint Louis or to one of the several food pantries in the town of Ferguson.

The other way you can help is to focus on the bigger issues of racial inequality and policing. The best way you can stand in solidarity with us is to look at your own community. If it has not been done, look at how often police in your area stop people of color in proportion to their percentage of the population. Talk to people in your community about how much they trust the police officers to protect them. Ask the Police if they feel trusted. Do people feel that violence is going unchecked, and that the police are one source of harassment and violence in their lives? Ask your local police if they are becoming more militarized or less. Look at mental health practices in your area and the role the Police force plays in that. You may know that only a couple of days ago another young man was killed by police in this city. He was a mentally ill person wielding a knife. Do things like that happen in your town? Do the police kill many people in your city but never see anyone punished for those deaths?

If there are troubles, hold a forum to raise awareness. Hold a rally to protest injustice. Do it in the name of Michael Brown and Ferguson, but focus on your community.

And if things are going well, then hold that up. Be a light. Let the Police in Ferguson and STL County that military responses to unrest and crime are not the norm in America. Let everyone know what justice looks like.

Another thing you can do is look at . This is a site of things happening in the STL area. If a vigil is happening here one night, you can create a parallel event in your church or city to say that you are with us.

Keep being Peace builders. Love mercy, do justly, and walk humbly with what you know to be the one God.

Also, see: http://standingonthesideoflove.org/blog/ferguson-and-beyond-next-steps-for-justice/

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4 Comments »

  1. Richard Hudak said,

    Reblogged this on The Considered Kula and commented:
    “Be a light.”

    With latent social conflict becoming manifest in Ferguson, MO, I found it helpful to read this positive, firsthand, Unitarian Universalist perspective. I offer it for your consideration.

  2. I’m just wondering how this dialogue will change if it turns out that Mike did indeed attack PO Wilson, and the officer was in fear of his life?

    • If the focus remains on the death of Michael Brown, the conversation becomes narrow and short-sighted. Look up the video, released STL Police, of the death of Kajieme Powell. For years violent young men have shot and killed all sorts of unarmed people in this city. Does that justify Michael Brown’s killing? This week thugs opened fire on the highway. Does that justify feeling threatened enough by young black men to kill them. That is what I care about.

  3. C. Jessel Strong said,

    Thomas thank you for a very well written piece.


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