Cops and the Mentally Ill: Finding a New Approach

On December 19, 2013, a man stood on the ledge of a bridge in Spokane, Wash., threatening to jump. Responding officers knew that if they tried to grab him, he would step off the ledge and fall into the river below. Instead, they spent almost 90 minutes listening and talking to him, in the hopes of calming him down. Their efforts at empathy worked. The man eventually allowed himself to be taken into custody. He was placed in an ambulance, and driven to a nearby hospital. The officer who talked … [Read more...]

Saving America from Herself

Why is President Trump acting against the people of his nation? Why does he repeatedly provoke hurtful behavior that creates an atmosphere of fear and disruption? What causes him to have such disdain for innocent people who have done no harm? There is something incredibly amiss about the conduct and priorities displayed by an executive who was placed in office with a minority vote on the eve of a much divided country. Instead of seeking solutions and remedies to unite and bring people together, … [Read more...]

Waiting for a Perfect Protest?

Media outlets and commentators representing a range of political persuasions have called attention to recent outbreaks of violence in Berkeley, Calif., Boston and other locations where anti-racist and anti-fascist demonstrators have gathered. Intentionally or not, they have often promoted a false equivalency between groups that advocate white supremacy and those that seek to eliminate it. Even mainstream media outlets that typically fact-check the president seem to have subtly bought into Mr. … [Read more...]

The Cheap Prosperity Gospel of Trump and Osteen

Before it began to rain in Houston last week, the spectacularly wealthy pastor Joel Osteen could have opened up his megachurch to serve as a logistics center. He could have announced that evacuees were welcome to take shelter there when Hurricane Harvey landed. Instead he wrote tweets like “God’s got this” and “don’t drift into doubt and fear … stay anchored to hope.” Only a couple of his posts on Twitter offered “prayers.” On Sunday, Mr. Osteen’s church announced that it was inaccessible … [Read more...]

A Fetishization of “Law and Order”

Trump wants nothing more than an unaccountable Joe Arpaio and the militarization of the police On Friday night, as Hurricane Harvey struck Texas, President Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, who had been convicted of criminal contempt of court for disobeying a 2013 order by a federal judge to stop racial profiling. By shielding a rogue official from legal sanction and accountability, Trump once again asserted just how much he fetishizes the shallow, … [Read more...]

Why Do Cops Need Bayonets?

Um, because they’re free Although Michigan Sheriff Michael J. Bouchard runs one of the nation’s largest sheriff’s offices — with about 1,400 officers stationed a few miles northwest of Detroit — he spends a lot of time in Washington. During the waning days of the Obama Administration, Bouchard, who is also chair of government affairs of the Major County Sheriff’s Association of America, engaged in a succession of heated debates with senior White House and Justice Department officials who … [Read more...]

Urge Your Assembly Member to Support the RISE Act—Take Action TODAY

We all know that the War on Drugs has been a costly failure--and catastrophic for people of color—but "liberal" California's criminal code still continues the war by doubling or tripling the sentence for a nonviolent drug offense if the person has a prior conviction for a similar offense. These harsh "enhancements" have left almost 2000 Californians languishing in overcrowded county jails with sentences of 5-10 years or more. Thousands more are warehoused in state prisons. The California … [Read more...]

Rekindle My Light

I have been in this place before, feeling anxiety because of the plans I have for my career, supporting my family, and the ways I want to grow in my community seem out of my control and in the hands of the U.S. Congress. It was December 2010, very close to Christmas, and I was being invited to meditate on the prophetic message of Hope and the people who live in darkness being embellished by a divine light. Yet, the night before Congress’ decision on the DREAM Act, I grieved profoundly. I … [Read more...]

Facing Our Legacy of Lynching

How a memorial could help lead America—and Christians—to repentance from a dark history. In 1902 a black man named Alonzo Tucker was lynched from a bridge in the coastal town of Coos Bay, Oregon, a few hours south of my home. It is the only lynching on record in the state, and the limited known details were enough to catch my throat. Tucker had been accused of assaulting a white woman, and an angry mob had formed to take his life in the streets. He was jailed, partly to protect him from the … [Read more...]

Cash Bail’s Lonely Defender

Pretty much everyone who spends any time examining the American system of secured cash bail comes away with the same conclusion: It’s unjust, expensive and ineffective, even counterproductive. People charged with crimes — all of whom are presumed innocent — get locked up for days, weeks or months not because they pose a risk of fleeing or endangering the public but simply because they’re too poor to buy their freedom. The harm that even short-term detention can cause is profound. Jobs are … [Read more...]