I’ve always like the initials WWJD which stand for “What Would Jesus Do?” Since Jesus is God and lived a perfect life on earth, the smartest decision a human being can make is to think about the actions and principles of Jesus Christ and apply them to their life.
The recent murder of Tyre Nichols in Memphis by five policemen has stung the nation once again regarding police brutality. Tyre was African American.
As rioting and anger begins to boil over, it might be helpful to also ask what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a respected civil rights leader–would do in our current situation.
Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black motorist, was pulled over in Memphis, Tennessee on Jan. 7 for what police said was reckless driving. After attempting to flee on foot, Nichols was aggressively beaten by police, newly released police video shows. Three days later, he died in the hospital.
The murder of Tyre Nichols was huge travesty of justice. Bill O’Reilly weighed in:
It is inconceivable to me that five police officers in Memphis would kill an unarmed man during a traffic stop. Rational thinkers have no explanation—a 29-year-old with no criminal record beaten to death.The officers had to know the situation was spiraling out of control. They should have called for backup if they needed assistance detaining the man. How could they do this knowing what happened to the police officers in the death of George Floyd?So now six lives are ruined; the victim and the five cops who will be incarcerated for decades. And for what? That’s what I can’t understand. The police had the man’s car; they knew who he was. If need be, you let him flee and arrest him later. You don’t beat him. Every sane person knows this.
The five police officers have been fired and charged with second-degree murder. Like Nichols, the five officers are young, black men. The oldest officer is 32. The youngest is 24.
Cerelyn Davis, the police chief, is a black woman. Her predecessor, Michael Rallings, was a black man. His predecessor, Toney Armstrong, was a black man.
The city of Memphis is 65% black and is beset with a troubling pattern of black men killing each other.
Too many young, black men have been programmed to hate and fear the police. The hate and fear spark resistance, which elevates frustration.
The frustration of law enforcement is not color-coded. Black and white officers feel the exact same frustration and lose control of themselves at the same rate. We can’t keep doing the exact same things, expecting new results. How many cities must burn to the ground before we change the discussion about law enforcement and the black community?
Recruitment for police officers became more difficult in 2020 after the rise of the “defund the police” movement and its demonization of law enforcement, the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund’s Johnson said.
“The attacks on law enforcement drives some of the best officers out of the force,” Johnson said. “The people pushing these policies think they are improving law enforcement, but they are doing the opposite.”
We may never know the motives of the five young policemen that killed Tyre Nichols. Anti-police mayors and city councils are partly to blame–which was true in Memphis. Most of the older and experienced police left the force in the past few years due to a local “defund the cops” movement. At the time of Tyre Nichols slaying, the Memphis police department was down 700 police (nearly 25%).
Because this was not a racial crime, it’s totally inappropriate–in fact evil–to stir up rioting and violence across the nation because of Tyre’s death. His life was cut short by injustice, but justice will be served. The five police officers who killed him will spend decades in prison.
That’s how the system should work in a fallen world.
A journalist I respect who considers himself a “problem solver” recently stated he didn’t know what to do about the Tyre Nichols murder. How do we cool down race relations in America and revive law and order in our streets?
I think I know what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. might do.
The 20th century saw many movements led by well-known people, including the civil rights movement championed by Dr. King. His message was right, biblical, and his methods were peaceful.
In the 21st century,, I believe the people movements of this era will not be led by famous people. They will be a “nameless, faceless army” of ordinary folks who will lead the charge of salvation on earth, justice in society, and reforming cities and nations.
Here’s what I think MLK would do about the problems of race and policing in the 21st century.
First, he would recruit both black and white pastors and their congregations to lead “reconciliation marches” in the largely African-American urban areas of the nation. Nineteen American cities are majority African American and forty-five have black populations between 30-50%.
Second, he might suggest that these marches take place throughout the USA on August 28, 2023–sixty years to the day since his “I Have a Dream” speech and civil rights march on Washington.
Third, he would encourage the police, mayors, city councils, and the general public to participate in the marches. At a concluding rally in each city, the police would ask forgiveness for their wrongs and mistakes. African Americans would re-commit to trust in law enforcement and not resist arrest (Tyre Nichols’ primary mistake). All Americans would ask God’s forgiveness for their sins, and receive his grace and empowering to renew our nation.
Let’s call it “Reconciliation Day 2023.”
After that, church prayer teams should walk the streets and pray for peace. The National Guard should be mobilized in some cities to remove the drug related gang warfare.
Let’s pray that God will ignite a racial reconciliation movement which can change America.
It’s time to reignite in our hearts a fear of God and respect for law. Abraham Lincoln said it best:
Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country… Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap–let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs;–let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.
We need a entire generation of Dr. Martin Luther Kings to arise in the cities of America and reconcile the nation. Share this article with others. Pass it on to key pastors in your city.
If we rise to this vision, MLK will be marching with us in the corridors of heaven and Jesus will be greatly honored.