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 15, 2012
Death of Shereese Francis, 30, New York, N.Y.
Shereese Francis was a 30 year old New York resident who was killed at the hands of New York police on March 15, 2012. Francis was diagnosed as schizophrenic, and at the time of her death, she was not taking her medication. She had became “increasingly emotionally distraught” after an argument with her mother. Her sister called 311, hoping for an ambulance, but four police officers arrived instead, and these officers chased Francis through the home. All four pinned her down as they handcuffed her and she stopped breathing soon after. She was pronounced dead at the hospital. The coroner’s report concluded Francis died of “compression of trunk during agitated violent behavior.”
Following Francis’s death, her family filed a lawsuit after police dragged their feet on releasing records under the Freedom of Information Act. The suit claimed four officers put their full body weight onto Francis’ back while trying to cuff her, and her sister believes she saw them hitting and using a Taser on Francis until Francis stopped moving.The lawsuit found that the officers overwhelmingly violated NYPD policies on mental illness, in part because the department has failed to provide training. The city resultantly settled with Francis’ family for $1.1 million.
Most people know about the Eric Garner case, where officers killed the 43-year-old father while restraining him in an illegal choke hold as he repeatedly gasped “I can’t breathe.” Yet it is important to note the stories and remember the names of many Black women who have been killed by police as well. During the launch of the #SayHerName campaign, co-founder Kimberly Crenshaw stated, “Although Black women are routinely killed, raped, and beaten by the police, their experiences are rarely foregrounded in popular understandings of police brutality.”
According to the African American Policy Forum, black women are outnumbered by white women 5:1 in the United States, yet are killed by police in nearly the same numbers.
SCRIPTURAL REFLECTION: JEREMIAH 4:30-31
“What are you doing, you devastated one?
Why dress yourself in scarlet
and put on jewels of gold?
Why highlight your eyes with makeup?
You adorn yourself in vain.
Your lovers despise you;
they want to kill you.
31 I hear a cry as of a woman in labor,
a groan as of one bearing her first child-
the cry of Daughter Zion gasping for breath,
stretching out her hands and saying,
“Alas! I am fainting;
my life is given over to murderers.”
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 #day15
You may close with the following:
Lord have mercy,
Christ have mercy,
Lord have mercy.
CLOSING PRAYER: PRAYER OF COMMITMENT FOR WOMEN (Sonia George, 2004 – India)
“God of life, hear us when the women all around the world pray. Give us the power to realise the forces of patriarchy around us. Endow us with the power of reason and sharpen our creativities. Give us the courage to face the challenge of domination and violence. We are here to resist all forms of violence and oppression. Give us the determination to fight against the system and dream together for a world of equality. God of humanity, help us affirm our self so that we may be strong enough to express our identities. May we be filled with your spirit to build up communities of justice and peace.”