Nick Hall: George Floyd response — Minneapolis pastor offers 3 action steps for justice

“No justice, no peace!”

This is the cry ringing through the Twin Cities as buildings are burning and businesses are boarded to protect against riots filling our streets.

I drove through my hometown, Minneapolis, over the weekend, and what I saw resembled more the war-torn places I’ve been in overseas than the white-collar city I know. I couldn’t help but think of Isaiah 59:15, “The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice.”

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George Floyd’s death at the hands of police officers last week has triggered an avalanche of anger that has spilled over the streets of not only our Twin Cities but also New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Atlanta and many other cities across America.

The arrest of Derek Chauvin, the officer who pinned Floyd to the ground with his knee, seems to have not quelled the anger many Americans are feeling. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said on March 14, 1968: “A riot is the language of the unheard” — and the unheard will be silent no longer.

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Yet in the midst of this chaos and pain, I was surprised to experience overwhelming hope. As I walked past smoldering buildings and broken people, voices filled the air on a sound system proclaiming peace. And as I stood with neighbors — men and women, both black and white — gathering to pray and call for change at the intersection where the largest riots have been centered, I saw a glimpse of revival.

While the images we see on our TVs show arson and theft, what I witnessed was a generation of mostly young black men and women, surrounded by friends from all backgrounds, all unwilling to fit the mold of a culture that highlights crime and controversy over character.

They gathered peacefully to express their anger and call for change. They prayed. They cried. They even challenged one another to become cops, lawyers, doctors and preachers. And while most of America may not see these young leaders, they are here in Minneapolis standing in the gap.

It is impossible to sensitively respond to issues of racism and injustice if all your relationships are with people just like you, so seek to learn under those different from you. Your life will be enriched, and you just might make a friend! 

As a white man, I will never understand what it is like to be followed in a store, abused, harassed or afraid of my loved ones being mistreated because of the color of their skin. But that doesn’t mean I can’t speak up, pray, lend a hand and do whatever I can to work toward justice, unity, equity and peace.

For everyone outside Minneapolis, unsure of how to respond, here are three action steps I would encourage:

Pray and repent 

The first prayer I encourage you to say is the hardest and requires raw honesty from your part: Pray for God to reveal racism in you … and repent. Plainly and simply put, racism is evil. It is sin. Every human being is created in God’s image, and if we don’t see our neighbors in that light, we need to check our hearts and repent.

Pray for the men, women and children who are afraid for their lives because of the color of their skin. Mourn with those who mourn.

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And pray for your mayor, governor, police officers, first responders and elected officials. Pray for the safety of those protesting. Pray that the church of the Twin Cities will rise up and lead in this time. I long to see our staff, stages and budgets built in ways that demonstrate our belief that all people have value.

Learn about the pain of others  

We shouldn’t still have to talk about racism, discrimination and the profiling of our brothers and sisters of color in 2020. But the facts do not lie, and it’s our responsibility to bring change. We need to educate ourselves, to humble ourselves to learn from and about their experience.

I encourage you to pick up a book, listen to a podcast or talk with someone who knows about the history of racism, privilege and discrimination in America. Seek relationships with those who are different from you and learn how to love your neighbor. It is impossible to sensitively respond to issues of racism and injustice if all your relationships are with people just like you, so seek to learn under those different from you. Your life will be enriched, and you just might make a friend!

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Support causes that promote reconciliation and unity  

A great Minneapolis effort to help the urban church is called the One Fund. I also support a mentorship and training organization for black young men in Minneapolis called The Man Up Club, which is led by my friend Korey “XROSS” Dean and is providing food for neighbors whose grocery stores have been burned down. Nationally, I love the work of the AND Campaign and my friend Justin E. Giboney. There are countless groups you can learn from and support. ⠀

To all of my friends who are afraid and angry, I am sorry. I am praying for justice. More than that, I am praying for the family of George Floyd. May the Twin Cities and our nation be brought together during this time.

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