Through RNS — Generally it could possibly really feel like you might be higher off being white and responsible in America than Black and harmless. As I watched the current trial of Amber Guyger, the white Dallas police officer who was fired after killing Botham Jean in his house as he ate ice cream on his sofa, I questioned if she would face the dying penalty. In spite of everything, the homicide occurred in Texas, America’s deadliest state in the case of executions, accounting for practically half of all of the executions in all the nation every year.
However Guyger didn’t face the dying penalty. She confronted the potential for as much as 99 years, principally the remainder of her life, in jail. Prosecutors requested for lower than a 3rd of that, 28 years in jail for the 28 years Jean was alive earlier than his life was minimize quick.
Guyger didn’t get the dying penalty, or life in jail. She didn’t even get 28 years in jail. She was sentenced to 10 years and might be up for parole in 5.
I couldn’t assist however think about if the roles had been reversed and Jean had entered the house of Guyger and killed her whereas she was consuming ice cream on the sofa, I’m assured he would face the dying penalty and sure be executed.
In spite of everything, one of many greatest determinants of who will get executed in America is the race of the sufferer. In a landmark assessment of homicide circumstances, 82 p.c of research confirmed that the race of the sufferer influences the probability of being charged with capital homicide or receiving the dying penalty. Those that murdered white of us had been extra prone to be sentenced to dying than those that murdered black of us.
We stay in a world the place black lives are too simply extinguished and white lives are too simply excused.
I don’t need the dying penalty for Guyger. However I additionally don’t need the dying penalty for the two,500 women and men dealing with execution in the USA, disproportionately women and men of colour whose lives really feel all too expendable.
After the sentence, Brandt Jean, Botham’s brother, supplied phrases of mercy and forgiveness and a heartfelt embrace to Guyger, and a video of the second went viral. I used to be a type of moved to tears as I watched it. I even beloved the half the place 18-year-old Brandt courageously invited Guyger to give up her life into the arms of Jesus. That was adopted by an embrace from the African American decide, Tammy Kemp, who handed Guyger a Bible.
What didn’t get as a lot air time was the decision for justice that went out from Botham Jean’s mother and his dad. Allison Jean affirmed the gorgeous act of forgiveness from her youthful son, however she additionally cried out for justice and for an finish to the systemic corruption in our police and felony justice system. Her phrases: “There is much more to be done by the city of Dallas. …. The corruption that we saw during this process must stop.”
Likewise, Bertram Jean affirmed the act of forgiveness whereas additionally declaring that he wished Guyger had gotten extra jail time.
When the celebration of black forgiveness drowns out the decision for racial justice, moments like this may be damaging to the reason for eradicating anti-black violence.
After praising the forgiveness of Brandt Jean, Bernice King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s youngest daughter, tweeted, “ … Don’t confuse his forgiveness with absolving this nation for its gross, bitter discrimination against Black people in a myriad of its systems and policies. Racism and white supremacist ideology can’t be ‘hugged out.’”
We’ve seen this dynamic earlier than. It occurred after the Emanuel AME capturing in Charleston, S.C., the place 9 African People had been massacred throughout their Bible examine and worship service by a white supremacist stuffed with hatred. Just like the mother and father of Botham Jean, most of the households of the Emanuel 9 spoke out with phrases of forgiveness, a name to repentance and salvation — and a name for justice. Many stated they didn’t need the dying penalty for the shooter, however they did need him to go to jail. Each forgiveness and justice had been proclaimed with energy, however some of us solely heard the forgiveness.
It’s laborious to think about any model of Christianity that doesn’t embrace forgiveness, grace, and mercy. And but, simply as forgiveness is on the coronary heart of our religion, so is justice. To steal a phrase from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, grace with out repentance, reparations, penalties is “cheap grace.”
Maybe Brandt Jean’s act of mercy might transfer some to rethink our punitive felony justice system, and possibly even to query issues just like the dying penalty, which stands in evident distinction to Brandt’s embrace of Guyer.
Martin Luther King Jr. referred to as capital punishment “society’s final assertion that we will not forgive.” If extra politicians and legislators took these phrases as a lot to coronary heart as we’ve got Brandt Jean’s gesture, the dying penalty would come to an finish. If Texas Gov. Greg Abbott took his Christian religion as critically as Brandt Jean takes his, he would acknowledge that the dying penalty undermines the probabilities of redemption and betrays the gospel of grace and forgiveness.
We don’t have to decide on between forgiveness and justice. The truth is, we dare not select between them as if they’re mutually unique. We are able to decry police violence and a damaged, racially-biased felony justice system and on the identical time have fun an act of Christian love and forgiveness.
We are able to say “Amen” to each Brandt Jean and to his mom, Allison.