From The Huffington Post, here’s some of how Bishop Stacy Sauls, Chief Operating Officer of The Episcopal Church, frames the subjects of race, media, and leadership in the Trayvon Martin case.
What has come out so far seems to paint a relatively clear picture of what happened. That makes it very difficult to see why action has not already been taken to arrest the shooter. We cannot help but wonder if the shooter had been black, and the victim, white, would an arrest not have already been made? At least I cannot help but wonder that. And when I think about it, I find myself getting angrier.
When I get less angry, I look at it a little differently. One thing I have learned repeatedly in my life is to be suspicious of what appears to be clear particularly when there are other rational sources who are seeing it as not so clear at all. When I get less angry, I look at some other facts. One is that this killing is not only in the hands of the local police or even the State of Florida. It is also in the hands of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That assures me there are authorities involved beyond local politics and local prejudices. In the days of the Civil Rights Movement in my native South, it was the involvement of federal authorities that was the guarantor of justice. I am hopeful that will again be true.
I am also heartened that state and local authorities are taking some important steps in the right direction. One was the voluntary stepping aside of the police chief. His leadership was compromised, and he got out of the way. That is good. Another is that a special prosecutor has been appointed. Another good sign and appropriate step.
All those things confront me with an uncomfortable reality. Local authorities seem to be acting in appropriate ways procedurally. The federal government, particularly the FBI, are involved and overseeing everything, which makes me more optimistic that justice will be done. In light of the fact that those things are true and still no arrest has been made, might it be that there are some facts about this case that I do not know? Might it be that things are not so clear after all, at least to those who know more than I do? Could it be that people of good will committed to justice, particularly those without a local connection, know things not yet shared with the public that makes an arrest, at least at this point, unwise or even unjustified? We simply do not know. The question before us, though, is whether we are going to trust the system. It is admittedly difficult, but I find myself reluctant to despair of it yet. Thinking that complex things are clear leads to tragedy. In fact, that likely has a lot to do with what led to the tragic death of Trayvon in the first place. We must not succumb to it.