Here is what I consider a good, “safe” statement by some of my leaders in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ): http://disciples.org/sharon_blog/call-disciples-time-violence/
There is, of course, an enormous onus on those in positions of leadership, even far in excess of those walking the beats, to address systemic racism in police forces, and to dismantle the fraternity spirit that resists efforts to make the police (at least particular police forces) better public servants.
But tonight I am sensing an onus on those of us calling for cultural changes in police forces, as well. The rhetoric by which calls for change has been made is often not helpful. (I should qualify this by saying that I haven’t carefully attended to a wide scope of the discourse; my impression is based on a pretty superficial observation of mainstream media.) This rhetoric is in part an inevitable outcome of circumstances. The Black Lives Matter movement has proceeded without centralized leadership, and in the age of social media, the voices dominating the air are those of the immediate relatives of victims, who should not be expected to speak in a measured and careful way. But we do need that care and measure. That is, excessive and hyperbolic rhetoric (for instance, “this is a war against black America”) only encourages the police establishment and its allies to circle their wagons (I’m not happy with that turn of phrase).
Nonviolent protest is admirable and the BLM movement has done so wonderfully, at least on occasion. But the absence of physical violence does not suffice in the pursuit of peace. (I have been reflecting today on Gandhi’s principle of Satyagraha, “truth-power.”) What I’d like to see is for protest against the police establishment to present simple, clear, and dispassionate claims and goals. Let us simply state, without exaggeration and with backing in demonstrable fact and values, wherein lies the injustice. Then let us call for reasonable demands that interested parties (the police) can imagine meeting. We have a right to be angry, but sharing our anger together is not the same as effectively reaching out to disarm someone we are in conflict with and lead them to peace. I am thankful for the voices on both sides that still allow for real hope of progress, but I am afraid that without great vigilance, the mechanisms at work will outdo them.