A message from ICWJ President, Reverend Dr. Jamie Gates:

A message from ICWJ President, Reverend Dr. Jamie Gates:
We should all be in mourning.  We lament in solidarity with the family of
Trayvon Martin in their grief and for the senseless loss of life.  We mourn with George Zimmerman who now lives with a death on his hands for which he can have no true confession, forgiveness or restoration.  We lament the deep injustices that have come to light in the course of this trial and its verdict.  We mourn the society that we have created where these injustices are not just aberrations but part of the very fabric of what we have created. 
Trayvon Martin was profiled, followed and then killed by George Zimmerman.  Based on the case presented by the state, and based on Florida law, George Zimmerman was not and should not have been convicted of second degree murder or manslaughter.  Whether you agree or disagree with the “not guilty” verdict, we should all be deeply concerned by the grave injustices that have been exposed.  For someone who profiled, pursued and eventually killed a black teenage boy not to be held legally accountable is a profound injustice. 
 
To avoid the central issue of race that was so clearly at the heart of this trial is a travesty that puts all black young men in even more danger than before, puts black families more at risk and damages race relations for all of us.  For this trial to avoid naming the dangers in gun laws that make it
easier for those of ill will to get away with killing another human being
elevates the likelihood that we all use lethal force in disputes against one
another and makes every community less safe. 
The criminalization of Trayvon by the defense is evidence of a competitive trial system bent on creating winners and losers at all costs, to the detriment of us all, and at the expense of an alternative system that seeks truth, justice and the restoration of our communities as its end.  The simultaneous criminalization and lionization of both Trayvon and George in a ratings-hungry trial-by-media showed us just how little those in charge of our public airwaves are capable of pursuing truth, justice and restoration; amplifying the divisions already tearing at our communities may be good for ratings but contributes greatly to the culture of polarization and violence that led to these tragic events in the first place. 
 
We are a people of mourning, but also a people who act for justice.  We call on all people of faith to allow these injustices to spur us on to actively pursue a justice that always includes the possibility for reconciliation and restoration.  We call on all people of faith to actively work for reconciliation across lines of race and class.  We call on all people of faith to actively vote for laws that make it less likely that we kill one another.  Lord, have mercy on us all as we discern what to do next, and guide us into your justice and reconciliation!
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