Ahead of the grand jury verdict in St. Louis County to determine whether to indict officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, Jim Wallis of Sojourner’s is asking Governor of Missouri Jay Nixon to work for peace and safeguard rights to free speech:
Jesus proclaimed, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9). The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us, “True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.” These are not idealistic thoughts or nice sentiments to be dismissed when tensions and conflict arise. Rather, they are wise words of truth that should guide our thinking in moments of distress. We need to make Jesus’ instruction real and consider Dr. King’s words a practical exhortation for the ensuring peace and public safety in Ferguson once the grand jury has made the decision of whether to indict Darren Wilson…
Your leadership is needed now more than ever. This will be one of the defining episodes of your governorship. Please do everything possible to de-escalate violence, which means limiting the use of military tactics and not deploying the National Guard as a first response. The rights of people to peacefully speak and protest must be steadfastly preserved and respected by everyone, especially government leaders and law enforcement agencies. The easiest and most obvious way to protect public safety is to limit confrontation and not allow people’s rights to be infringed upon.
For the full letter, please visit the Huffington Post religion page here.