We’ve been asked to post this message from the Ferguson Response Team, which includes UU ministers in St. Louis, as well as UUA staff and other UU leaders. If you are looking for ways to respond, to support those working for justice in Ferguson, or to learn more about the situation there, please read this message and share it with others in your congregation.
Dear UU Leader:
People around the country are preparing for the prosecuting attorney to announce the grand jury's decision whether to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson.
Indications point to a grand jury announcement soon, possibly between Election Day and Thanksgiving. An indictment is extremely unlikely, but whatever it is, whenever it is, there will be much pain and anger that will be expressed in a variety of ways, some constructive and some not.
Our deep theology as a justice-seeking people calls upon us to show up for this. Many of you have asked what you can do. We urge you to help us to SHOW UP in any of the following ways: (And remember: the most current information will be found on the Standing on the Side of Love Ferguson page.)
The Ferguson Response Team
Taquiena Boston, Director of Multicultural Growth and Witness, UUA
Terasa Cooley, Program and Strategy Officer, UUA
Barbara Gadon, Lead Minister, Eliot Unitarian Chapel, Kirkwood, MO
Abhi Janamanchi, Senior Minister, Cedar Lane UU Church, Bethesda, MD
Annette Marquis, LGBTQ and Multicultural Programs Director, UUA
Rosemary Bray McNatt, President Starr King School for the Ministry
Thomas Perchlik, Minister, First Unitarian Church of St. Louis, MO
Meg Riley, Senior Minister, Church of the Larger Fellowship
Bill Sinkford, Senior Minister, First Unitarian Church, Portland OR; former UUA President
Krista Taves, Minister, Emerson UU Chapel, Ellisville, MO
Julie Taylor, Director UU House Studies and Adjunct Professor, Eden Theological Seminary, St. Louis, MO
Kenny Wiley, Director of Religious Education, Prairie UU Church, Parker, CO
Sunshine Wolfe, Interim Minister, First Unitarian Church, Alton, IL
BEFORE THE GRAND JURY REPORT
- Seek in-depth information and perspective on the protests in St. Louis. Mainstream media has gotten a lot of things wrong, or simply paints an unfair portrait of people who are resisting racial profiling. Read and share these stories to counter others that people are hearing.
- Check out The St. Louis American http://www.stlamerican.com
- This is the Movement newsletter: http://bit.ly/thisisthemovement
- On Twitter follow @deray, @brownblaze, @TefPoe, @HandsUpUnited, @stackizshort, @bdoulaoblongata, @MillennialAU, @LostVoices14, @OBS_StL, @akacharleswade, @shaunking.
- Watch National Day Against Police Brutality with Kenny Wiley and Barbara Hoag Gadon on the VUU.
- If you serve a congregation, consider a different worship service and RE focus for the Sunday immediately following the announcement or as soon as possible thereafter. Look for materials on the Standing on the Side of Love web page, www.standingonthesideoflove.org/blog/withferguson, as well as the St. Louis Standing on the Side of Love Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/stlstandingonthesideoflove. If you have materials you think would be helpful, please submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and they will be posted.
- Encourage UUs in your community to participate in the Church of the Larger Fellowship's online vigil, which is planned to be broadcast the day of the announcement. (www.clfuu.org)
- Write a blog or prominent message on your congregation or personal website and social media outlets, urging people to pay attention.
- If you use Twitter, consider following the hashtag #UUwithFerguson and add that hashtag if you tweet about your support.
- Follow some of the young movement leaders on twitter, @TefPoe, @HandsUpUnited, @stackizshort, @bdoulaoblongata, @MillennialAU, @LostVoices14. Send messages of support to them. They need us!
- Write public statements and op-ed pieces. Check the website and St. Louis SSL Facebook page for Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt's tip sheet and talking points for ideas.
- Tie your work to the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Selma. We can't congratulate ourselves for our work 50 years ago and not address the major civil rights revolution of our time.
AFTER THE GRAND JURY REPORT
- Hold a vigil in your own community. Use this opportunity to shine a spotlight on racial profiling where you are. Personally reach out to others in your area to encourage their participation. This does not have to be limited to UU colleagues. This is an excellent time to bring congregations together.
- Getting to and around in St. Louis may be difficult in the time immediately following the announcement. It will also take organizations awhile to prepare actions for a national call. Please watch for information about a call to come to St. Louis.
- Stay updated on the St. Louis Standing on the Side of Love page on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/stlstandingonthesideoflove. We will be keeping an eye out for the next "Ferguson October" event, which was beautifully organized by multiple organizations and facilitated safe, positive participation.
- Should protests arise in your area, show up in support. Follow the lead of the African American community, and check in with interfaith groups.
- Seek de-escalation training and serve as de-escalators. Join organizations that are monitoring police. It may require soul-searching about what you can and cannot support, but that too is important work. "We need not think alike to love alike."
- And finally: photograph and document everything you do. Our people need to see a giant splash of yellow Standing on the Side of Love shirts in both the physical and virtual worlds at this time. Post them on your website, Facebook pages, and to St. Louis SSL. If you use Twitter, use #UUwithFerguson. For UUA distribution, send photos and stories to email@example.com.
Thank you for your service. We stand with you. In Faith,
The Ferguson Response Team