ACREC statement expresses concern about verdict in Michael Brown case

December 5, 2014


When a Ferguson, Missouri, grand jury decided not to indict a white police officer for killing an unarmed black man, reactions across the country were varied and intense.

The Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns (ACREC), created by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s 205th General Assembly (1993), has added its voice to the mix with a statement expressing “deep concern and holy outrage” at the verdict.

“We felt that what happened in Ferguson is part and parcel of the life of the church because it’s part of the life on the nation,” said Raafat Zaki, chairman of the committee.

ACREC’s responsibilities are to be a prophetic voice for the church, to help form public policy, to monitor the implementation of church policies and to advocate for the full access and equality of racial-ethnic members of the church, Zaki said.

As part of these responsibilities, ACREC periodically releases statements on current events. These statements are published on ACREC’s webpage and distributed to Presbyterian groups.

“We sincerely want to engage the church in a prayerful dialogue to seek reconciliation,” Zaki said, adding that the statements can also serve as “interpretative tools.”

 “A statement like this serves to interpret reality for people who might be in the majority … or might not grasp how serious the situation is,” he said.

The full text of ACREC’s statement about the Ferguson verdict:

The Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns expresses deep concern and holy outrage at the verdict given in the aftermath of the killing of Michael Brown. We lament that justice was denied for Michael Brown, his family, and the citizens of the U.S., especially people of color. A justice system that fails to indict a white officer standing trial for killing an unarmed 18-year-old black youth perpetuates the sin of racism in a society that fails to affirm that black lives matter.

We pray for courage for the church, that we might not only confess our complicity in a system that makes such a verdict possible, but that we might be a prophetic witness through a loud and clear voice to the world of the just love and peace of Jesus Christ.

We pray for the family and friends of Michael Brown, who suffer not only the failure of our justice system, but also the loss of their beloved.

We pray for all victims of systemic racial injustice, recognizing God’s mandate to us to raise our voices and to work against such injustice.

And also, we pray for a world where God’s peace and love reign and for the grace, wisdom and strength from God to do the work of making it so.

  1. I am saddened that there are no prayers offered in the statement for the man that Mike Brown robbed. Being a victim of violence has long-lasting effects.

    by Ryan Young

    December 11, 2014

  2. I been a Presbyterian all my life. A Deacon in my church. I am finished DONE

    by Ronald J. Powell

    December 10, 2014

  3. After reviewing the evidence I believe officer Wilson did take the correct action to protect his life. Too many people made early judgment on this case before knowing all the facts. I fear this committee did the same.

    by rev. Marc Wendleton

    December 10, 2014

  4. The choice to indict or not indict is based on probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed. The Grand Jury system is designed to prevent cases where there is not sufficient evidence to believe a crime has been committed from being prosecuted. The mere prosecution of an offense can bankrupt a defendant and should never be done lightly. Every shooting does not constitute a crime, or even probable cause to believe a crime was committed. I doubt those who made this statement were as informed as the Grand Jury that had to make this difficult decision. The ACREC should not be substituting its judgment for those who are in a position to make an informed decision. That being said, systemic racism exists and should be decried by the church. The anger that boiled up is caused by much more than the facts of this case. I suggest that the case of Eric Garner ("I can't breathe") which is documented by a video that everyone can watch provides a much better example of poor law enforcement and systemic racism.

    by Gordon N. Blackman, Jr.

    December 10, 2014

  5. And how many more Pcusa members have left this year? Oh yes, over 5%. More than half over the past 20. Say what you will, but the one sided view of our church's leadership is destroying our church. There are ways to acknowledge problems in society without glorifying thugs and condemning people for doing their difficult jobs.

    by Steve Gons

    December 9, 2014

  6. Racism is still an issue in our country whether of not we want to acknowledge that. It saddens me that while some are debating whether it is an issue these acts of injustice continue. Ferguson and NYC are in the news but they are the symptoms of what is happening in across the country. As the church of Jesus Christ we have always been called to stand and work for justice and peace for all God's people. We need to focus on God's gift of love for all not just whom we choose.

    by Marcia J. Graham

    December 9, 2014

  7. In response to the comment by Mr. Gons, I am not embarrassed to be associated with the PCUSA and ACREC's statement. I am, instead, grateful for these statements that call us to deal with the sin of racism in our midst. I am also proud to be part of a church that provides for open debate when people differ so that Mr. Gons can express his views.

    by Belle Miller McMaster

    December 9, 2014

  8. I agree 100% with this statement. The aftermath and viewpoint of the officer dramatically emphasis the opposite viewpoint of justice. There is absolutely no remorse and officer has validated, without hesitation, how appropriate his actions were. RACISM!!!

    by gwendolyn d. magby

    December 9, 2014

  9. I pray for any family who must face violence and suffer consequences of trauma . I do not understand the failure of the church to also pray for the family of Officer Wilson, who was put in such a situation and now suffers because he had a duty to perform. Jesus loves us all, no matter what race we are. I refuse to be judge and jury--why does the church?

    by vicki maline

    December 6, 2014

  10. No, Ferguson was not a case of systemic racial injustice. It was a case of Brown, who had just stolen a handful of cigars from a small market and was walking down the center of the street, disobeying the order of a uniformed police officer. The officer may not have known Brown had grabbed the cigars with the intent to lace them with marijuana, but Brown knew he had committed a crime and he reacted to the officer's order in an aggressive, threatening manner.

    by Bob Battenfield

    December 6, 2014

  11. Is there anyone else out there who is embarrassed and ashamed to be associated with this church and this drivel?

    by Steve Gons

    December 6, 2014