having done everything they were supposed to do…

On July 18, 2016, in North Miami, Florida, a 23-year old man with autism eloped from a residential assisted living facility. Police were summoned by reports of an armed suspect threatening suicide. Upon arrival, the officers espied a man sitting in the middle of the street and another man lying on his back, his hands empty and raised in the air in view. That man, Charles Kinsey, a behavioral therapist and an African American, called out, “All he” (referring to his client) “has is a truck. A toy truck.” At some point, one of the officers “accidently”, it has been alleged, shot Mr. Kinsey, who, by his posture and proclamation to the police, did everything he was supposed to do. Moments later, asking the officer, “Why did you shoot me?”, Kinsey received the reply, “I don’t know.”

On August 12, 2016, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Stanley Vernon Majors shot and killed his next door neighbor, Khalid Jabara, a Christian of Lebanese descent. This after years of Majors’ harassing, terrorizing the Jabara family, calling them, “dirty Arabs” and “filthy Lebanese,” hurling racial epithets at gardeners who tended the Jabara family lawn (read: the “N-word” at African American workers), and, in 2015, driving his automobile, running down Jabara’s mother, Haifa, out for a jog, for which he was to be tried in March 2017. In 2013, the Jabaras filed a protection order forbidding Majors from having any contact with the family, which he repeatedly violated. This past May, against the wishes of the district attorney, Majors was released from custody with no conditions on his bond. Now, Khalid Jabara, having done everything he was supposed to do, is dead.

Two incidents among sickeningly, for me, too many that, for me, illustrate a couple of sadly, strikingly salient realities. One, aggrieved minority parties and persons doing all that they are supposed to do, all that they have been instructed to do in relation to legal authorities is no guarantee that the worst of their fears will not be realized. Two, bigotry, immune to the instruction of reason, insensate to the calling of compassion, thus, invincibly ignorant, obeys no boundaries.

2 thoughts on “having done everything they were supposed to do…

  1. Paul,

    Thanks for this! It seems that we become less and less tolerant for each other and our differences, and that some people who wear a law enforcement badge are so fearful of anyone of color that they themselves even admit to not knowing why they shoot their weapons against people who are only doing what they are supposed to do.

    The commandment to love thy neighbor as thyself is simply ignored these days replaced by fear, hatred and violence. If we could go back to the golden rule as treating others the way we want to be treated that certainly could be a good start away from the treacherous path we seem to be on.


    • Yes, Loretta. I long have believed in the relationship between gospel and law – the first, an expression or metaphor for belief (say, in love and justice) embraced and embodied in one’s behavior and the latter that external admonition and reminder of what the belief to be embraced and embodied is.

      It seems to me that individuals and, indeed, society (or a goodly part of our society) no longer embrace and much less embody the value and virtue of mutual love and respect. And where and when the gospel is not lived, then we need to turn to the law to remind us. Your counsel of relearning the Golden Rule (as an articulation of the law) is good. Would that we need your words!


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