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Assistant Minister's Column

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        Whenever someone tells me or Steve that someone died, we ask them to tell us the story of the death. This is intentional. For whatever reason, our society tells us to avoid thinking about death and more specifically to avoid talking about it. Maybe people are afraid that asking about the moment of death will be too upsetting. Maybe they are afraid to hear the answer.
But talking about the death is a part of the grieving process. It helps those still alive create a story. That is what we have to do. People want to know what happened, what was done well, what wasn't, was the person in pain, was someone at fault.
July was a very difficult month for our city and our state. We are all trying to create a story regarding what happened. This is not only a part of our grieving process, it also helps us plot a course of action to prevent this type of pain from happening again.

      I‘m still creating the story for myself. I need my story to be honest. I need my story to have hope. I need my story to not overly shame or demonize black people or the police or my state. I don’t want easy answers. Instead, I want a story that helps us to build a more just Louisiana.

      We are at a pivot point in Louisiana. I fear that we are using the shootings of the police officers to silence injustices to the black community. I fear that we are allowing ourselves to be divided into simplistic divisions of cop versus black. I worry that the white community will use this as an excuse to avoid looking at major injustices in our state.

       Instead, I hope that these tragedies can be used to reform the police force, and rework legislation. I hope that we can pivot to what we all want – a more just, equitable and compassionate state.

      We are all creating a story of what happened with the deaths of Alton Sterling, Montrell Jackson, Brad Garafola and Matthew Gerald. I hope that we can be intentional as we create these stories. I hope that we are honest with ourselves and our state.

I hope that we can pivot Baton Rouge towards more love, kindness and justice.