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Michael Brown's Image of God Needs to Be Affirmed by Justice System, Says Evangelical Social Justice Leader

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By Jeffery Scott , CP Contributor
August 25, 2014|8:03 pm
ferguson missouri michael brown (Photo: Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

Parishioners hold hands during church services at the Greater St Mark Family Church as the community discusses reactions to the shooting of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 17, 2014. The Ferguson police department has come under strong criticism for both the shooting and its handling of its aftermath. On Sunday U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder ordered a federal medical examiner to perform an autopsy, in addition to one being conducted by state medical examiners.

An African American social justice leader who is currently in Ferguson, Missouri, emphasized that she wants to see the justice system affirm Michael Brown's image of God.

 Lisa Sharon Harper, senior director of Mobilizing for Sojourner's, a progressive evangelical social justice advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., said every human being is created in the image of God but she feels that the legal system far too often neglects to give that respect to young black boys.

"The community here needs to see the wheels of justice turning as they should," Harper told The Christian Post. "More broadly, we need to collectively change the racial constructs that have dominated our society for hundreds of years. The justice system must work to ensure that the image of God in Michael Brown is affirmed at every turn and every juncture, from the possible indictment of Darren Wilson, the choosing of the jury, the vigorous defense of his life and his rights within that courtroom, and the just sentencing for the one who extinguished his life."

Protesters raise their hands as they drive past in a van during a demonstration to protest the shooting of Michael Brown and the resulting police response in Ferguson, Missouri, August 15, 2014. (Photo: Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

Protesters raise their hands as they drive past in a van during a demonstration to protest the shooting of Michael Brown and the resulting police response in Ferguson, Missouri, August 15, 2014.

Michael Brown, 18, was an unarmed black teen who was shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who is White, on Aug. 9. The death of the teen has ignited a national firestorm of protest over the long-held belief that black males are unfairly targeted by White police officers.

"Recognizing that Ferguson was part of a larger struggle for justice, Sojourners has been reaching out to mainline and evangelical churches, especially those that are multi-ethnic and predominantly white so that the entire Body of Christ would be invested in this fight," Harper said.

Sharing her on-the-ground observation, Harper said that many faith-based organizations showed up in Ferguson after the Aug. 9 shooting. Harper said the groups are doing their best to help the community in any way possible, from collecting food and school supplies for familes who don't have access to these needed-items due to looting and rioting of stores, "to holding prayer vigils in front of the governor's office."

Harper believes that the Ferguson situation is a faith issue because she sees it as a fight to respect the image of God in Brown, and that fact has to be preserved in order to get the justice that the residents and African Americans across the nation are seeking.

When asked what she wanted the end outcome to be in Ferguson, she said there were a few different things:

"My hope is threefold: one, that justice would be done for Michael Brown and that the state and the law would recognize the value of the image of god in him," Harper said. "Two, that the people of Ferguson who for so long have lived under the oppression of constant injustice which has manifested in multiple ways, would continue to find their voice, their feet, their heart, their allies, and their capacity to lead as they transform their community into one that thrives. And three, that the church at large would be inspired to revisit and reengage a national conversation on racial justice and healing."

 

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