All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. Section 1 of 14th Amendment, US Constitution
A man died by the hand of a NYPD police officer who applied a chokehold which is an illegal act banned by NYPD. In spite of the video footage clearly showing the hapless man being choked to death, the officers involved in the act were not even indicted to consider the facts of the matter. Did the grand jury make the decision based upon who the former (a poor potentially petty criminal) and the latter (police officers) are rather than two equal human beings?
I think this can also happen to me. In a mundane incident like a traffic stop. What if I show a slightly defiant tone of voice? Irritable demeanor? Should I be killed for that? If the video footage was not enough, what if there’s no video?
Many people are outraged not only for the sake of the man who died but also for the sake of themselves as well. We all need an assurance that this would not happen to us.
I find my safety net in the words of God. 1) He makes it clear that all human lives are precious distinct from all other forms of life he created.
Whoever kills an animal must make restitution, but whoever kills a human being is to be put to death. You are to have the same law for the foreigner and the native-born. I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 24:21, 22
2) He makes it clear that all humans are created equal and we should treat each other accordingly. He especially pleads the case for vulnerable people – widows, orphans, the poor and foreigners. So many times he mention these groups of people commanding the community to take care of them and be fair to them. The word foreigner always jumps out at me as I read through the Bible. As a naturalized citizen, I’ve often made feel like a foreigner here and so can’t help but being comforted by God defending my case Yeah!!
When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19:33
When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 23:22
Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. Isaiah 1:17
3) God promises justice in the end.
“You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless. Exodus 22:21-24
So I trust him. I’ll be still knowing that He is God. I also find hope in that many people, of all colors and walks of life, are willing to speak up, march and lie down on the ground to identify themselves with the man who was killed. I believe God planted the truth in us. So we know. A human life matters.