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Readings for Reflection: July 2015
from the Committee on Ministry and Counsel

Our Committee on Ministry & Counsel and Peace & Social Concerns Committee are jointly considering how our community might address the issue of racism – in our country's history, as it affects the human spirit, and as it impacts the Ann Arbor community – in order to lead us to act individually or collectively in ways that will promote justice and harmony. We will begin by sharing one or two Readings for Reflection, this one from Lynn Drickamer, and perhaps one in August from M&C. We hope others in the Meeting will share their thoughts and feelings with the committees, and we invite you to submit writings on this topic for future Readings for Reflection. We plan to offer several opportunities for Meeting members and attenders to learn more and to reflect on this issue together in the coming months.
                                                                      ~ Committee on Ministry and Counsel

Aura Rosser

Be not content to accept things as they are, but keep an alert, sensitive, and questioning mind.*

I continue to feel shock and dismay at Aura Rosser’s shooting death last November. I accept the conclusions by those who have examined the evidence that the officer who shot her acted within the law and within the guidelines and training of the Ann Arbor Police Department. I can well imagine that the officer himself may be quite devastated by this death.

What haunts me is the seemingly acceptable reality that this should be the likely outcome of such an encounter. I am not in law enforcement and I do not have friends or family who are, so I recognize my very limited perspective. And yet, I “hire” the Ann Arbor Police officers. They act in my name. Am I hopelessly naïve to think that shooting to kill is not the only and best response to a person in crisis who is distraught and armed with a knife? I believe that for most of their history British police were armed only with a nightstick. Although the public there does not have the same access to firearms as here, surely the police encountered people armed with knives.

What alternative interventions are part of the training of our police force? I realize that decisions must be instantaneous and made while adrenaline is flooding the body, which is why training must create a reflex ability to respond with the best approach for any given situation. Is training in less lethal approaches re-enforced and practiced and role-played as frequently as practice at the firing range?

Did race play a part in this event? In some ways, probably not, and in others, certainly yes. For me this death does not raise all the same red flags that those in Ferguson, Staten Island, and Cleveland do. And yet, race plays a role in every event in America: it is woven into the fabric of who we were, who we are now, how we each feel about ourselves and others. As long as we have unequal access to quality education, employment, security, and a healthy life and as long as we live with grossly distorted rates of school suspension and adult incarceration, race is playing a huge role in America.

I am sorry to say, I will most likely mourn this event for a while, but eventually will let it go.

Do we, as individuals and as a Meeting, do all in our power to end governmental, social, economic, environmental, and educational injustices in our community, acting to alleviate suffering and pain?*

Lynn Drickamer

* From LEYM Advices and Queries, Nos. 51 and 53.

All Readings for Reflection
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