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Racial Equity Advocacy Committee, National Black Presbyterian Caucus denounce Atlanta killings

Both letters urge Presbyterians to stand with their siblings in the Asian American Pacific Islander community

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Racial Equity Advocacy Committee wrote a letter Thursday denouncing Tuesday’s killings in Atlanta and in Cherokee County north of Atlanta, and the National Black Presbyterian Caucus followed that up with its own letter.

On Wednesday, a 21-year-old white man from Woodstock, Georgia, was charged with eight counts of murder following a Tuesday attack at a spa in Cherokee County and two later attacks at spas in Atlanta. Investigators have not said the shootings were race related.

“It is with deep sorrow, heartache, and only by the sustaining power of our God that the Racial Equity Advocacy Committee (REAC) writes to denounce the murders of six Asian and Asian American women in Atlanta this week,” the letter states [two other victims were white]. “We are sadly all too familiar with the sin and destructiveness of white supremacy, and the unleashing of its terror upon our Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) siblings must end.”

“As those who follow the One who calls us to be seekers and doers of justice, we call upon our Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) family to:

  • Boldly denounce the sins of racism and white supremacy
  • Seek historical education about the knowledge of the lived realities of AAPI people in the U.S.
  • Take action with AAPI siblings against racial hatred and violence
  • React only with grace and compassion to AAPI siblings’ pain.”

“We celebrate the presence and gifts of vast diversity amongst us in our AAPI siblings and repent of our silence and complicity in the racism they’ve experienced throughout the history of our nation,” the REAC letter states. “We commit to standing united in our faith in Jesus Christ against the divisive and violent forces of white supremacy to support and uphold our AAPI siblings.”

The Rev. Dr. Thomas H. Priest, Jr. is president of the National Black Presbyterian Caucus. Here he addresses the 223rd General Assembly (2018) held in St. Louis.

Members of the National Black Presbyterian Caucus said Thursday they “are horrified” by the violent acts.

“Although the Atlanta police authorities say it is too early in the investigation to know if the victims were targeted because of their race or ethnicity, we do know that there are 3,800 reported incidents of verbal and physical anti-Asian assaults recorded in the past year in the United States,” states the caucus letter, signed by the Rev. Dr. Thomas H. Priest, Jr., president of the caucus, and the Rev. Dr. Flora Wilson Bridges, the caucus’ representative to REAC. “We also know racist, anti-Asian coronavirus postings were on the Facebook account” of the man accused of committing the shootings.

“We are appalled by the intersection of racism and sexism,” the letter states. “Hateful assaults have now also become a common occurrence against the elderly within the AAPI community. We believe we must protect our most vulnerable communities. This must stop.”

“The National Black Presbyterian Caucus strongly denounces (in the words of President Joe Biden) ‘vicious hate crimes against Asian-Americans who have been attacked, harassed, blamed and scapegoated’ since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the letter states. “These shootings are an unspeakable tragedy for the victims, their families, this nation, and the AAPI community, which has been targeted by high levels of hateful racist and sexist attacks from insults to murder.”

“We are in strong support of and in compassionate empathy with the suffering families and entire AAPI community in the wake of these unspeakable acts of violence,” the letter states, “as well as all of the abusive and racist rhetoric that has contributed to it since the pandemic.”

“The National Black Presbyterian Caucus advocates to ensure justice and inclusion in God’s call to all in the Beloved Community,” the letter concludes. “May all Americans stand up (in the words of U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken) ‘for the right of our fellow Americans, Korean-Americans, to be safe, to be treated with dignity.’”

“There is the need for action and not just words,” the letter states. “May God bless and protect the women, elders and all of our [siblings] in the AAPI community.”

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