Praying for justice for people of color killed by police

Note: Due to the December 8 Holy Day Mass at 12:15, there will be no Contemplative Prayer for Reconciliation and Healing of Racism next week. Instead, we hope to see you at Mass!

December 1, 2017


Three years ago last week, Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy, was shot and killed by two Cleveland police officers. After being shot twice from 10 ft. away, the officers did not attempt any lifesaving measures for over four minutes. Tamir’s 14-year-old sister was tackled and handcuffed when she attempted to get to her brother, a full two minutes after he had been shot.

Witnesses offered different reports as to whether the police officers issued any kind of verbal warning before shooting Rice. Expert witnesses who testified that the police acted recklessly were treated with hostility and disdain. The prosecutors were described by multiple people as acting more like defense attorneys for the police than as an actual prosecutors.

The whole prejudiced weight of the criminal justice system came down on the Rice family.

Tamir’s death came just four months after the killing of Eric Garner in Staten Island, three months after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, and just a few days after the death of Akai Gurley in Brooklyn, all at the hands of police officers. And these are just three in a long, long line of black men dying at the hands of law enforcement. Most people know about the assaults by police during the Civil Rights movement (not to mention the 200 years before), but – until these deaths came to the national consciousness – most people weren’t aware that these abuses were still occurring. In 2016, 137 black people were killed by police.

The vast majority of police officers are good, decent, kind and compassionate individuals, but it’s become clear over the last several years that racism is still alive and well amongst some law enforcement officers, and this is most troubling due to their charge to serve and protect, uphold the law and exercise deadly force with the utmost of caution.

We pray, therefore, today for all of the men and women who answer the call to keep our communities safe. First, we thank God for their commitment to every day put their lives on the line and face difficult circumstances. Second, we pray for the souls of all those officers (and their families) who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Third, we pray that the hearts and minds of our police officers be free from the prejudice and racism that exists in all parts of our community. We recognize that it can be hard for anyone, regardless of role or responsibility, to break free from the institutional racism that seeps into us from the day we’re born, and we therefore pray that those responsible for the training of law enforcement officers take every precaution possible to ensure that those they train are prepared to appropriately and compassionately protect our community, especially those people who suffer from mental illness and those who faces have long been the recipients of hatred, oppression and prejudice. And lastly, we pray that we can all hold each other to the highest standard of love, compassion, mercy and justice.    (Adapted from Wikipedia)

Prayer for Centering

God of Mercy, we pray for the loved ones of the Black people killed by police officers. We pray as well for the loved ones of the police officers who were killed in the line of duty protecting other citizens. May all know the healing touch that comes from your love and peace.
We ask that you give wisdom, courage and insight to those who are fashioning new programs for police departments; that racial bias training is established; that more female officers are hired; that police departments match the racial diversity of the neighborhoods they serve; and that we can transform our institutions into authentically anti-racist and anti-oppressive communities of action.
In your name we pray,

Invitation to Silence


Closing Prayer
The Coventry Litany of Reconciliation
All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class,
Father, forgive.
The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own,
Father, forgive.
The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth,
Father, forgive.
Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others,
Father, forgive.
Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee,
Father, forgive.
The lust which dishonors the bodies of men, women and children,
Father, forgive.
The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God,
Father, forgive.
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another,
as God in Christ forgave you.

Weekly Reflection Questions
1.    What are the ways that we can encourage awareness and justice in our community, especially in our institutions?

2.    How can we support our law enforcement officers and government institutions in their efforts to become more just and equitable in their treatment of Black community members?

Join us in person at the Cathedral Fridays at 12:15 PM for this 30 minute communal contemplative prayer with the intention of reconciling and healing racism in our city.

Feel free to pray privately wherever you are in solidarity with those gathered at the Cathedral if you are not able to join in person.

Brought to you by:
Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Three Holy Women, Our Lady of Divine Providence, Old St. Mary’s, Saints Peter and Paul Human Concerns/Social Justice Commissions
Urban Ministry of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee

For more information, please contact:
Anne Haines, Respect Life Director for Urban Ministry
Andrew Musgrave, Director of Social Justice at Three Holy Women, Old St. Mary’s, Our Lady of Divine Providence and Saints Peter and Paul Parishes
Shelly Roder, Director of Outreach Ministries at
Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist

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