March 13- Day 13 of Lent

OPENING PRAYER:

Lord God, during this Lenten season, teach us to come before you in humility, lamenting the signs that your kingdom has not yet come in its fullness. Help us to acknowledge our finitude and failings, and guide us into a journey of remembering rightly, repenting honestly, and responding faithfully. We long for the coming of your mosaic kingdom in Jesus Christ, our Lord, and invite your Holy Spirit to lead us now.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  MARCH 13, 2015

San Francisco Police Department- Racism Exposed

*Trigger warning: Today’s post details the use of racial and homophobic slurs.

A Justice Department investigation into the San Francisco Police department found dozens of racist and homophobic texts sent to and from Officer Jason Lai. The texts were seized from Lai’s personal phone and had been exchanged with some of his closest friends on the force as well as with people he had befriended on his beat. SFPD Chief Greg Suhr said that texts sent by three other officers implicated in the scandal were “no less reprehensible.” These and other racist and homophobic text messages were sent:

  • “I hate that beaner,” one text reads, “but I think the nig is worse.”
  • “Indian ppl are disgusting,” proclaims another.
  • “Burn down walgreens and kill the bums,” a third message states.

Lai, whom is Chinese, made several references to “hock gwai,” which is a misspelled reference to the Cantonese “hak gwai,” a derogatory phrase for African-Americans. In a series of texts he described an incident involving a “bunch of hock gwais shooting each other.” He said “Sprained my ankle over these barbarians.” One of the suspects “went to the hospital after he got shot lol,” the officer texted; “Too bad none of them died,” he added. “One less to worry about.”

In addition to disparaging blacks, Hispanics and Indians, Lai used coded language to talk about gay officers, and made a blanket statement impugning residents of the city’s largely minority and low-income Tenderloin district. “They’re all drug dealers in the TL,” his text stated.

This case marked the second time in as many years the SFPD has been the subject of a racist texting scandal under the leadership of Chief Greg Suhr. This debunks his claim that the problem is limited to a relative handful of officers and not part a broader cultural problem within the ranks. In the previous scandal, seven officers sent or received text messages that spoke of lynching African-Americans and burning crosses; they were all dismissed. The messages — which included one that said, simply, “White Power,” as well as others with denigrating comments about the LGBT community, Mexicans and Filipinos — were sent or received by as many as 14 officers in the department, the police said.

It is important to note that San Francisco is not alone in this nature of institutional bigotry and racism:

  • The Miami Beach Police Department was also involved in an email scandal involving hundreds of racist and misogynist emails sent by its officers. The Associated Press reports that 16 officers were involved in sending and receiving around 230 of these types of messages.
  • Cops in Fort Lauderdale, Florida were also caught sending bigoted messages.
  • Santa Clara County, jail guards, were caught sending texts using racial slurs to describe African Americans, Jews and Vietnamese Americans.
  • A top Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department official resigned in 2016 amid an outcry over emails he forwarded, mocking Muslims, blacks, women and others.
  • In Ferguson, Missouri, a Justice Department investigation, after the police shooting of Michael Brown uncovered emails that mocked African-Americans as lazy and criminal. This investigation unearthed numerous racist emails by two of the city’s police supervisors and a court clerk.
  • And an additional video surfaced of a retired officer in L.A. singing a parody of “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” mocking Brown’s killing at a Christmas party full of retired officers. The lyrics read:  

“Michael Brown learned a lesson
about a messin’ with a bad … police man
And he’s, bad, bad Michael Brown
Baddest thug in the whole darn town
Badder than an ol’ King Kong
Meaner than a junkyard dog
Two men took to fightin’
And Michael punched in through the door
and Michael looked like some old Swiss cheese
His brain was splatter on the floor.”

The party was hosted at the Glendale Elks Lodge by a retired LAPD officer, present LAPD said.

SCRIPTURAL REFLECTION: MICAH 7:2-4

“The faithful have been swept from the land;
   not one upright person remains.
Everyone lies in wait to shed blood;
   they hunt each other with nets.
3 Both hands are skilled in doing evil;
   the ruler demands gifts,
the judge accepts bribes,
   the powerful dictate what they desire—
   they all conspire together.
4 The best of them is like a brier,
   the most upright worse than a thorn hedge.
The day God visits you has come,
   the day your watchmen sound the alarm.
   Now is the time of your confusion.”

RESPONSE OF LAMENT AND CONFESSION: Please spend some time in personal response, crying out to God with prayers, poems, songs, or art that expresses your lament and confession. If you feel led, please share these responses with others, using #lentenlament #day13

You may close with the following:

Lord have mercy,
Christ have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

CLOSING PRAYER: O God, I get So Tired of Racism, Wherever I Go (William Donnel Watley, 1992)

“O God, I get tired of racism wherever I go- abroad and at home. From stores that let me know that I have gotten ‘out of place’; from looks of fear that my black manly presence engenders in some; from small insults to major offenses; from polite, subtle, condescending paternalism or maternalism to outright, open hostility; from insulting jokes about my intelligence to curiosity about alleged sexual prowess; from caricatures and stereotypes to the ‘you are the exception’ syndrome- racism rears its many heads and shows it various faces all the time.

Yet as I bow before, O God, I pledge to you, to my ancestors who sacrificed greatly so that I might enjoy whatever rights and privileges- however limited or circumscribed- are mine to experience, and to my children and to their children that I will keep up the noble fight of faith and perseverance. I will not not go back to the back of the bus. I will not accept the invincibility of racism and the inviolability of its mythical sacred precepts.

I know that greater is the One that is in me than the one that is in the world. May that Spirit’s presence and power direct and inspire me now and evermore until victory is won for my people, and all people, and and until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ. Amen.”

– From Conversations with God: Two Prayers by African Americans

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