Florida Pastor Calls for Unity in the Midst of Police Slaying

The senseless killing in Minneapolis this week of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, while in the custody of four white police officers, serves as a stark reminder to us all that, where racism in America is concerned, nothing has changed. It’s a reminder that old wounds in our nation’s history, wounds that have ripped apart families and relationships, and left many scarred for life, have never been healed. It’s a reminder that what our forefathers intended when they added the phrase “with liberty and justice for all” to our country’s Pledge of Allegiance, the words that should symbolize equality for all men, regretfully have no real value at all.

What is happening in our country? Why is it happening, and when will it ever end?

Anyone who is a Christian, who prays, reads God’s Word and practices living a godly life, should without a doubt, have a sense of right versus wrong. But in truth, it doesn’t take being a Christian to know certain things are just not right.

Our nation has a deep-rooted history when it comes to injustice and racism—most of which is based on the attitudes of superiority and greed. They alone are the primary cause for the longstanding history of a slave mentality that has existed in this country. Just as African Americans have suffered through the shameful, horrendous, pangs of slavery, so have our native Americans endured similar treatment.

The abolishment of slavery in 1865, as a result of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, was intended to bring an end to something many deemed inhumane, unjust, and downright criminal, and to provide freedom for all. But that culture remained. Though the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended the segregation of public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin, it has obviously done little to bring an end to the outright racism and bigotry that still exists in our country. Sadly, there remains a large segment of the populous who continue to embrace the notion that it’s okay to be racist—that it’s fine to treat blacks and other minorities as second and third-class citizens—even to the point of violating their civil rights and ending their lives.

Even worse, it is apparent that some of our country’s leaders, including those who have been elected or are sworn to serve and protect, and uphold our freedom and liberties, choose to look the other way when things like this happen.

The tragic assault on Mr. Floyd was no accident. It was a deliberate, calculated, execution-style killing played out in full view, for the entire nation to see through various media outlets. At no time during what seemingly appears to have been an unprovoked assault, as is clearly evident on videos most of us have viewed, did either of the four police officers involved show remorse or attempt to put a stop to the assault.

This kind of attack on anyone, regardless of their race, is absolutely unacceptable! What happened to Mr. Floyd was not only unnecessary; it was downright evil, criminal and showed no sense of human dignity. While I am not one who believes in fighting fire with fire, I do believe in doing what is fair and just. As the father of two young sons, it pains me to think I have to be concerned or fearful for their lives when they leave home because of the color of their skin.

As a minister of the gospel, and a citizen and leader in my community, I am here to call an apparent wrong exactly what it is—wrong! A man has lost his life. A family has been deprived of the presence of a loved one. The fact that all four police officers have been fired, and one has now been charged with third-degree murder, only scratches the surface of what needs to happen for justice to truly be served. It is my hope and prayer that, based on the unquestionable evidence before them, authorities will clearly see this for what it is, do the right thing and bring the appropriate charges against each of these four men.

Meanwhile, I call on all leaders, on the national, state, and local levels, as well as our church community, to get involved. There’s much to be done to, once and for all, eradicate this epidemic of racism that seemly won’t go away. The only chance we have of ridding our society of this cancer is when our politicians, leaders in the private business sector, and our spiritual leaders all come together, and with one voice and one heart, unite to condemn the racist, inhumane actions that are taking place in this nation.

Like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I too have a dream. I have a dream that one day people everywhere, in this nation and around the world, will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. It is my prayer that we someday, and not in the too distant future, will live in a land that we can all say, without any reservation, is a nation that truly represents liberty, and justice for all.

—Henry Fernandez