Statement on Atatiana Jefferson and police shootings

We must add Atatiania Jefferson to a long list of names black people killed by the police.

They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace. — Jeremiah 8:11

No justice, no peace. We are angry and heartbroken at the police killing of Atatiana Jefferson in Fort Worth, Texas. We join our cry to the Biblical voices of lament. No justice, no peace.

A police officer killed Atatiana Jefferson in her own home. Atatiana was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew. The police officer shot her through her bedroom window.

Now, we must add Atatiania Jefferson to a long list of names black people killed by the police. Rekia Boyd, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Botham Jean, Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, and many other black women and men that have been killed by police.

Too often our world is a place of injustice, danger, trauma, and death for black individuals, children, families, and communities.

Atatiana’s death reveals, yet again, the fatal consequences of criminalizing of communities of color. Racist and hyper-militarized policing practices mean that people of color cannot even find safety in their own homes.

Our current policing practices end lives and shatter communities. It is time to end these practices. It is time for change.

We affirm the courageous stand taken by Black Methodists for Church Renewal on the police killing of Atatiana Jefferson, and we call on all United Methodists to follow their lead. As people of faith, we must work to address the epidemic of police shootings in our own communities and beyond.

As the General Secretaries of United Methodist Women and Church and Society, we uplift the words of The United Methodist Church, which demands that local and national governments stop policing practices that criminalize communities of color. We also lift up the call of our Church to its congregations and members: end your silence. Start or continue speaking out publicly for police accountability in racial profiling, misconduct, abuse, and killings.

Our mandate is clear: “So, The United Methodist Church calls on local and national governments to: Stop the criminalization of communities of color and the cacophony of ‘wars’ being waged against these communities.” (Resolution #3379, Stop Criminalizing Communities of Color in the US).

Let us work and pray for the peaceable kingdom, founded upon justice.

Harriett J. Olson General Secretary/CEO United Methodist Women

The Rev. Dr. Susan Henry Crowe General Secretary ​General Board of Church and Society