Faith Letter

From Rev. Frank Wulf

April 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


This letter appears on the Stop Mass Incarceration Network website.


March 25, 2015

Dear colleague:

The Stop Mass Incarceration Network has issued a call for a day resistance on April 14. The Network has identified that day as a day when people from all walks of life should come together and stop business as usual. This gives us an opportunity to take part in a nationwide effort to declare an unequivocal “No more!” to these killings by police and to the culture of impunity that treats the lives of some as though they don’t really matter. So, in addition to discussing long-term strategies for responding as a faith-based community to police killings and mass incarceration, we will also have a chance to discuss how we best fit into this national day of protest and resistance.

Rev. Frank Wulf speaking at a protest in from the LAPD headquarters on October 22 National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and Criminalization of a Generation, 10/22/14. Photo: Special to RevolutionRev. Frank Wulf speaking at a protest in front of the LAPD headquarters on October 22 National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and Criminalization of a Generation, 10/22/14. Photo: Special to Revolution

I am convinced that the time has come when we can no longer stand by and let these killings by police happen with impunity. Many of us have already been engaged in the struggle. But, I believe that now is the time when all of us need to speak a clear and collective prophetic word. We, as people of faith, have to say “No more!” to these killings, and especially to the culture of callousness that allows them to continue without consequence or repercussion.

There is a man in my congregation who keeps me awake at night. He is a poor and uneducated black man who suffers from mental illness and occasionally drinks too many beers. He is also a diabetic. When his diabetes is under control, he is a delightful and creative human being—a talented musician, a devoted Christian, a bit of a poet, and a loyal friend. There are times, however, when his diabetes is not under control. There are times when he overmedicates with insulin or fails to eat an adequate meal. At these times, his blood sugar drops to a dangerous level, and he becomes angry and aggressive. During these hypoglycemic episodes, the people around him legitimately feel threatened. And, their first reaction is typically to respond with fear. After all, how are they to know that his rage can easily be resolved with a candy bar, a piece of fruit, or a cup of juice? All they see is an angry black man flying into a rage, and they assume the worst.

To be honest, I’m just glad that he’s still alive. On any number of occasions, he could easily have become one of those unarmed black or brown men who dies in the street in a pool of his own blood, the victim of a police bullet. This man isn’t perfect… far from it. And yet, he doesn’t deserve to die for his imperfections. What he really needs is help. And yet, help is not what he is going to receive. He will have to continue making his way through this world as best he can in the face of a system that has no time or patience for discerning what is really going on in his life… a system that too often views him as just one more angry, violent and dangerous black man that needs either to be locked up or eliminated. He precisely fits the demographic of those who are most at risk to be shot and killed by police.

I believe that we are in the midst of an epidemic of police killings of black, brown and mentally ill persons. And, the time has come when people of faith need to link arms with those who are demanding that these killings must stop. For too long, the police have carried out these killings with impunity. And, they are typically given the benefit of a doubt, even in the most egregious of cases. We know their reasons and excuses for firing at unarmed civilians like Mike Brown, Ezell Ford, John Crawford, Brother Africa, Kelly Thomas and so many others: I thought he had a gun! He was reaching for my gun! He charged at me like a demon! I feared for my life! But, we also know that those who do these shootings belong to a policing culture that too often devalues the lives of people who are poor, black, brown, and mentally ill. It is this culture that has to be stopped! In the end, we have to be clear that nothing gives police officers the right to be the accusers, judges, juries, and executioners for anyone at all.

So, I am hoping that you, as a person of faith, will take part in this national day of resistance. We need to raise our voices in ways that are clear, strong, strategic and effective. The time has come for the faith community to speak a strong prophetic word on behalf of justice.



Rev. Frank Wulf

United University Church

Los Angeles


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