Community Voices

Shooting deaths bring no end to nation’s pain and sorrow

A large group of people marched from Stranahan Park through Andrews Avenue to the main jail in Broward County during a Black Lives Matter rally against police violence in downtown Fort Lauderdale on Saturday July 9, 2016.
A large group of people marched from Stranahan Park through Andrews Avenue to the main jail in Broward County during a Black Lives Matter rally against police violence in downtown Fort Lauderdale on Saturday July 9, 2016. pportal@miamiherald.com

There comes a time in everyone’s life when it seems there is no end to the mental sorrow and pain. Here in America, that time seems to be now.

The police shooting deaths of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge were streamed online and I couldn’t bring myself to watch. Too painful.

“Lord, when will this violence end?” I prayed.

Black Lives Matter demonstrations were organized and carried out in cities across the country. Then, out of the blue, the tables were turned and there was a brutal attack on law enforcement officers in Dallas. A deranged black man, mad with anger, decided to take revenge and slaughter some of Dallas’ finest.

Rendering evil for evil has never worked. Not in America, not any other place that I am aware of. It is usually the innocent who seem to get hurt in a revengeful act. Somehow the message that it doesn’t work never reached Micah Xavier Johnson, a 25-year-old U.S. Army veteran. And maybe it did, but was just overshadowed by what he saw as a never-ending problem of police brutality against black men. I wonder if he thought he could be next?

As a black mom, I prayed daily for my sons as they were growing up. I told them not to ask questions if they were stopped by the police for any reason. I told them that while there were some officers who believed in upholding their badge in a respectful way, there were some who simply used the badge as a means to attack blacks.

So, I told them that asking questions could lead to them being brutally beaten by the arresting officers. “The wrong officer could easily say that you were resisting arrest and it would be your word against theirs,” I used to tell them. It was the only thing I knew to say to keep them safe.

Back then, there were no cellphones or portable video cameras to capture brutality. So it was, indeed, their word against our sons’.

But even as I repeated to my sons my homemade advice of “staying safe when stopped by the police,” I worried that it wouldn’t be enough to keep them safe. Every black mother of sons I know shared the same worry. And although we never had a meeting to discuss what to tell our sons to help them survive, our message was the same.

Still, most of us managed to bring up our sons with a healthy respect for law enforcement officers. Somehow we managed to instill in them that not all cops were bad cops.

As I write this column, my heart is heavy for the 12 officers who were shot, five of them killed in Dallas. As far as I know they were good cops who have left behind family and other loved ones who are asking the same question as the families of Castile and Sterling: Why?

I also grieve with the family and loved ones of Johnson, who had lost hope in our American system, who apparently felt the killing of blacks men by police officers in America would simply go on as business as usual: The officers would be not be found guilty of any wrong-doing, and simply be given a slap on the hand and sent back to work.

I didn’t know Johnson, but I believe this was probably what he was thinking when he learned of the killings of Castile and Sterling. It caused him to snap, because as a black man in America, he had seen this kind of action all too often. So, knowing that he would also die, he first chose to take out as many police officers as he could.

As America buries our slain heroes, this is no time to take sides. No one is a winner in this horrible situation. We must find a way to live peacefully together; to trust each other. If we don’t the evil will only grow, and spread like a bad infection.

POLICE APPRECIATION CELEBRATION

Kudos to Dr. Marvin Dunn, who has come up with the idea of a police appreciation celebration to be held 2 p.m. Sunday at the Historic Hampton House at Northwest 46th Street and 27th Avenue in Brownsville.

Dunn proposes for the community to bring roses to the Hampton House on Saturday to be given to participating police officers on Sunday.

He has requested that members of the 5,000 Role Models be present to pass out the roses to the police officers.

Let’s make it happen.

MIAMI PILGRIMS TO MEET POPE

A farewell Mass for the nearly 500 pilgrims from different groups and parishes in the Archdiocese of Miami and their families will be celebrated 10 a.m Saturday at St. Mary Cathedral by Bishop Peter Baldacchino, auxiliary bishop of Miami. The pilgrims will meet Pope Francis at the end of the month at the 2016 World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland.

At the Mass, the pilgrims, who will leave on July 23, will receive the blessing of Baldacchino and prayers for safe travels. At World Youth Day, the Miami pilgrims will meet with thousands of other young adults from across the world. They will return on Aug. 3.

St. Mary Cathedral is at 7525 NW Second Ave.

MIAMI BEACH JCC NAMES NEW CEO

Warm congratulations to Paul Frishman, who becomes the new CEO of the Miami Beach Jewish Community Center on Sept. 1. He currently serves as chief operating officer of the Michael Ann Russell JCC in North Miami Beach, where he has been for the past five years.

A native of South Florida, Frishman is a graduate of the University of Miami, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in marketing. He also is a graduate of the JCC Association’s Executive Development Training Program and was a recipient of the JCCA’s Graduate Scholarship program, as well as an active member on the Continental Governing Board for the JCC Maccabi Games. He is a graduate of the Disney Institute’s Quality Customer Service program.

Frishman is a 30-year veteran of the Jewish Community Center movement and has also served three years as the executive director of the Milken JCC in Los Angeles, and five years as the chief operating officer at the Valley of the Sun JCC in Scottsdale, Arizona.

In addition, Frishman served 17 years at the Dave and Mary Alper JCC in Miami, where he met his wife Caryn. They are the parents of three grown children, Jaclyn, Aaron and Lauren.

AMERICAN HIGH TEACHER WINS AWARD

Our hats are off to missionary Manuel Cox for being one of 10 teachers honored with the 2016 Un Maestro Especial — Award of Recognition. According to a news release, the award was given to 10 finalists out of more than 200 applicants and was presented “in recognition for outstanding commitment to education, which you have demonstrated through your exceptional qualities and innovative methods of teaching.”

Cox, who serves as a missionary at The Church of God Tabernacle in Liberty City, is also a former Miami Herald Silver Knight winner. He was selected in 2011 as the SECME (National Southeastern Consortium for Minorities and Engineers) Teacher of the Year.

The father of three, he is the son of elder Amos and missionary Mildred Cox of Northwest Miami-Dade.

He serves as lead teacher for the Engineering Academy for Student Excellence at American Senior High School.

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Religion Notes, c/o Neighbors, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172 or email bea.hines@gmail.com. Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.

  Comments