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Rochester NY Friends Meeting’s response to the Killing of Daniel Prude

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Rochester NY Friends Meeting’s response to the Killing of Daniel Prude

Rochester Friends Meeting (Quakers) mourns the killing of Daniel Prude, an African American visitor to our city, Rochester, NY, and we send our condolences to his family. Like many in our community we were shocked, angered and distressed to learn that Daniel Prude’s death was not due to the effects of an overdose while in police custody as originally reported but due to asphyxiation from police restraint. The video from the police officers’ body cams shows clearly the officers’ lack of compassionate and appropriate intervention for an individual experiencing a mental health crisis. We support community calls for reform in policing and the appropriate response to mental health crises, we stand with those who have organized and participated in recent protests, and we affirm their democratic right to protest.

As an historic peace church, we support the nonviolent intent of the protest organizers and welcome the call for faith-based elders to help maintain a peaceful presence as the community mourns and calls for long-needed changes in accountability, policing and mental health interventions. We believe that nonviolence and restorative justice strategies are effective tools in de-escalating conflict, promoting healing and decreasing mass incarceration. Compassion is necessary in responding to all human beings in need.

Black lives matter. This killing is just one symptom of a pandemic of systemic racism which affects all of us and is deadlier to some than to others.  Some of us carry the lived experience of generations of trauma in our bodies while others carry the benefits of privilege accumulated over generations. We are all affected by systemic racism in our learned experience from living within the system.  

The Quaker testimony of equality is based on our experience that we all have the capacity to be inwardly taught by Spirit, by God, and that faithfully following Spirit's leadings empowers us to identify and resist the misleading understandings received from living within systems of privilege and oppression, calling us into a personal and collective path of transformation. Spirit’s teaching helped Quakers become the earliest faith group in the United States to abolish slave ownership and the slave trade among its members, and led us to be active in abolition, women’s suffrage, civil rights and anti-war movements.

Despite this long history of work for peace and justice, in each generation we have to learn to listen to Spirit’s teachings for today. We have not yet abolished the seeds of racism and privilege within our own religious community.  Rochester Friends Meeting commits to the work of becoming an anti-racist faith community and stands with those in the wider community who are working to address the impact of racism. We pray that with divine assistance we may continue to be teachable, that individually and collectively we may heal from the wounds of racism and continue on the path of learning to live into a peaceable community that truly values the integrity of each person.

Approved by Meeting for Business 9/13/2020