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Response to Recent Police and Civilian Killings, Part Eleven

August 26, 2016 by Herbert Daughtry

Tension Among the Religionists: Understanding the Role of Contemporary Clergy in a Historical Context of the Priest and the Prophet (continued) **

“Hours after the Cardinal’s homily on March 14, 1999, the UAC conducted a healing/reconciliation ceremony with, of course, Mayor Giuliani and Commissioner Safir. On March 5, 1999, Black businessmen led by the credit doctor, L.G., met with the Cardinal and F.S., acting President of the PBA. The Black businessmen discussed with O’Connor a prayer service to be held in the Bronx. Also, Jews joined the prayer-making crowd. A Rabbi led a group of rabbis in a prayer ceremony.

“On May 3, 1999, the New York Post carried a very interesting article regarding the Cardinal. Its caption read, ‘Black Community Honors O’Connor for its Voice.’ ‘Who in the Black community would want to give the Cardinal an award at this time?’ I asked myself. What had the Cardinal done in the Black community to warrant an award? As I read the article, it became clear that the Black Catholics gave this award to someone that they believed had exhibited the qualities of Pierre Toussaint, who was expected to be canonized. He would become the first Black saint. He was venerated in 1997. The leader of all of this was Mr. Tyrone Davis, the Executive Director of the Office of Black Ministry of the Archdiocese of New York, who himself had been mistreated by the police.

“As I read the article, the quote attributed to the Cardinal validated my assessment of the priestly role. The New York Post indicated that O’Connor, before delivering a vote of confidence to the NYPD, remained outspoken on the contentious issue yesterday praying that the cops get a proper hearing.

“The Cardinal was quoted as saying, ‘They will have, what we pray will be a fair trial. The overwhelming majority of police officers are outstanding individuals.’ Then, another revealing quote, ‘It is not for me as much as it is not for anyone – except for God and the courts to judge those police officers.’ The Cardinal had already rendered a judgment on the side of the cops. How does he know that the overwhelming majority are outstanding individuals? There are many that do not share his race, religion, and station in life that would argue the contrary.

“The Cardinal says he’s not going to judge those officers. Four police officers shot 41 times at a lone, unarmed man, engaged in no criminal activity, in his own vestibule, going into his own house. Nineteen of the 41 bullets hit him, killing him – and, the Cardinal isn’t going to form an opinion and he doesn’t want the world to form an opinion. Significantly, the same newspaper informs us that the Cardinal is planning events in the next few months to help heal the rift between police and the Black community.

“Then, on June 10, 1999, the Cardinal hosted another meeting. I cannot say what happened. I did not attend and there was no publicity, at least I didn’t see any. It isn’t hard to figure what occurred. History is our instructor. Significantly, on February 16, 1999, we launched daily prayer vigils – 12:00-12:30pm, at the Bronx Courthouse. None of the above attended except Mr. Gatling and Mr. Jacques DeGraf who participated in the Cardinal’s meeting. In fact, we issued a call, that from 11:00-11:30am, people should pray, and if they were not religious, think or send positive vibes so wherever they were, they could still participate. Again, there were no takers from the priestly crowd.

“The National Action Network led by Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, Chairperson, and Rev. Al Sharpton had its own ecumenical service on April 9, 1999 at Canaan Baptist Church. The major feature was to honor those who had filled the jails from March 3, 1999 (Wall Street Rally) and March 9-29 (One Police Plaza). It was an idea that I suggested to Rev. Sharpton to honor the jail goers and deepen the bonds. The major theme was justice. Many people were present, but missing from the ceremony were the priests who had been missing from the action.

“Thus, sharp lines were drawn between those who wanted peace, healing, and reconciliation without an equal emphasis on justice and struggle, and those who wanted both, but who, at that time, wanted the emphasis to be on justice and struggle.
“This is not to suggest that Rev. C.B. and others, who engaged in ‘speechifying’ meetings, actions, and planning without coordination with the Diallo Family, the ministers, and community leaders led by Rev. Sharpton, were trying to sabotage or neutralize the movement; or, that they were ego-tripping, media-grabbing, or were being motivated by self-aggrandizement. To place the most positive interpretation on their behavior, let it be said, that they were uniformed, unconnected, or simply fulfilling their priestly function.

If there is any criticism, it would be since they wanted to be involved, they should have made serious efforts to discuss or connect with the family and activists/prophets who, with the discretion, blessing, and participation of the family, were leading the struggle. In fact, they had led the fight against police misconduct for many years while many of those who now wanted to become prominent or leaders on this issue had never said a word, and in some instances, were critical of the prophets/activists.”

(End of “Tension Among the Religionists: Understanding the Role of Contemporary Clergy in a Historical Context of the Priest and the Prophet.”)

** Some names and places have been changed. It is not my intention to expose or criticize persons who are still alive. I only want to show the difference and protect against the manipulation of the clergy.