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                                         with African American Families

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Press Release 

Father James E. Goode, OFM, President

National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus

(212)  868 - 1847

Sister Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN, President

National Black Sisters’ Conference

(202) 529- 9250

Brother Tyrone A. Davis, CFC,

Executive Director, Office of Black Ministry

Archdiocese of New York

(212) 371-1000  Ext 2681

 

 

February 28, 2000

The National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus and the National Black Sisters’ Conference are deeply sadden by the ‘Not Guilty’ verdict handed down this past Friday (February 25, 2000) from the Albany courtroom, where four white police officers were acquitted of two murder counts and four less serious charges as it pertained to the shooting of Mr. Amadou Diallo on February 4, 1999 as he stood alone and unarmed at the entrance of his Bronx, New York apartment building. 

Forty-one bullets fired at one man and a verdict of not guilty are hard for us to understand and indeed painful for us to accept.  The officers said it was a mistake. Yet nobody has been held to account for a man’s death.  There could be another mistake tomorrow.  Another innocent man or woman could fall victim to a police officer’s bad judgment.  Another mistake, and another life…how long can we go on this way in a just society.

 What does all of this say to the African American community?  It says that racism is still alive and well in all facets of our society.  It clearly says that there is no justice for non-whites in this country. 

Where do we go from here?  We must first of all pray for justice and peace.  This prayer cannot be just the prayer of a few, but the prayer of a city and a nation.   We must find a “justice table” and sit down together- Black folks, White folks, Asian folks and all people of good will, to correct the ills and develop a plan of justice and peace that touches the lives and hearts of all people.  We must openly express our feelings at this “justice table”.  At this table we must seek to find new ways and new avenues to build confidence and trust and to live not only in word but also in deed the Gospel of life.  For until we recognize the dignity of every human person we can never achieve true justice and true peace. 

Our Holy Father Pope John Paul II has stated; “ a commitment to justice and peace…is a necessary condition for the celebration of the Jubilee” (Tertio Millenniio Adveniente, no. 51).  The ancient tradition of Jubilee is a tradition rooted in a commitment to peace and justice.  “The Jubilee year,” Pope John Paul II points out, “ was meant to restore equality among all of the children of Israel, offering new possibilities to families which had lost their property and even their personal freedom”. 

Let us then join together as African Americans and people of all faiths, cultures and creeds to establish a just nation: a nation that proclaims good news to the poor, a nation that brings liberty to those deprived of it, a nation that reaches out in compassion to the poor who are hungry and who search for shelter, a nation that reaches out to the sick who seek relief and the downtrodden that seek help in their hopelessness.  Let us become a nation who frees the oppressed and gives sight and equality not just to a select few, but to all the people of God. Let us become a country that upholds through its’ law and by its’ action respect for human life from the moment of conception to its natural end. 

Hate will not solve our problems of injustice, but love opens the avenue to many new and glorious possibilities for peace and justice across this land.  The Archbishop of New York, John Cardinal O’Connor,  reminds us through his motto “there can be no love without justice.” In the words of Dr. Adam Clayton Powell, “Children don’t you get weary…. there’s a great camp meeting in the Promise Land.”

 END