The Sandra Bland story plucks the heart strings of many people wary of the authorities in this country. Particularly, it seems African Americans, because of their long history of struggle with police are agitated by the occasion. I pastor in Hempstead where this issue is on our front doorstep. Hempstead doesn’t have a glamorous history in regards to race. Those hurts are refreshed when race issues erupt. But Hempstead is also benefited by our racial diversity. My friends are multi-ethnic. Some are rich and others poor. For two years I have labored behind the work of my predecessors in order to heal the historic racial tensions. And now the Sandra Bland tragedy looks to uproot the sapling olive tree planted to produce peace and unity in our city.
What bothers me is that outsiders – media, protestors, and community organizers – are dictating the tone of this controversy. Is there no one in town that would like to sit together and discuss the issue. And with that, what is the issue? Someone describe how race is a part of this story. I am friends with African American pastors in town, and they are concerned for peace. They want to sit together and talk, and we will talk. Why should Hempstead be complicit with the media’s version of this story? In light of the Sandra Bland issue, I’m calling on all pastors and people in Hemsptead to join in a time of prayer at the Waller County Courthouse Thursday morning (7-22) at 7:30am.
In the meantime, I am asking all Hempstead people to commit to peace and patience. Everyone deserves the presumption of innocence – which I extend to our Sheriff’s office and public officials. I support them until such a time as they are proven guilty. At the same time, if we need reform, what reform should we pursue? My ministry as a pastor is to apply the Gospel message in all places and situations. We need solutions, grace, and hope in Hemsptead! Don’t let the outsiders corrupt the good work we began!