The Rev. Brian Merritt is headed to Ferguson, Mo. Wednesday, answering a call “on the members and congregations of the Presbyterian Church (USA), over 90 percent of whom are white, to stand with the people of Ferguson and 'witness against and strive against' systemic, institutionalized racial injustice.”
The Rev. Landon Whitsitt, executive and stated clerk of the Synod of Mid-America, made the call on Tuesday and will arrive in Ferguson on Friday. Rev. Whitsitt wrote: “If you live in or around St. Louis please come and walk with the protestors. Listen to their cries, and join them in the call for justice. If you live further away, find the members of your own community who are standing against this injustice. Listen to their cries, and join them in their own call for justice.”
Protests have continued in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson since police shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown on Aug. 9. The demonstrators have been met with a militarized police force that has turned rubber bullets and tear gas on the people. Along with abuses to protesters, police have arrested, detained and targeted journalists and human rights workers, said officials.
The police response has resulted in Amnesty International deploying a human rights team to Ferguson, the first time the organization has ever made such a deployment within the United States; and, has Egypt calling on authorities to use restraint in responding to the protests.
The results of an independent autopsy showed that Brown was shot at least six times, all shots were fired from the front and one shot was to the top of his skull. A public funeral for Brown is scheduled for Monday.
In his call, Rev. Whitsitt wrote: “Sisters and brothers, we must stand arm in arm with the people of Ferguson. Black bodies matter and our white bodies will signify that the killing of black bodies is unacceptable.”
In answering the call, Rev. Merritt said, “As a minister I feel compelled to heed Rev. Landon Whittsitt's challenge to Presbyterian ministers to 'do more than simply watch.' As a peacemaker in the Presbyterian church, I am going in solidarity with those whose human rights are being denied by police brutality, racial profiling, and the militarization of the police force. The Presbyterian Church (USA) has a strong social witness toward justice and believes that we must 'as the possession of God … stand where the Lord stands, namely against the injustice of the wronged.' I go to represent Mercy Junction of Chattanooga and Christ's call to stand with those persecuted.”
Read Whitsitt's complete text at this link: http://synodma.org/blog/2014/8/19/a-call-to-presbyterians-to-stand-in-solidarity-with-the-people-of-ferguson.
For updates from Merritt's time in Ferguson, follow Mercy Junction's page at facebook.com/MercyJunction. Donations to support Mercy Junction can be sent by Paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to Mercy Junction, P.O. Box, 4074, Chattanooga TN 37405.