Commentary on John 18:1—19:42
After a Good Friday worship service with her friends at their African American church on the Westside, She was going to drive her three friends home.
They decided to stop at a corner store to pick up some milk. It was a cold Friday night and they were weary of the sadness of Jesus’ death sung, prayed, and preached at their church as they were reminded of the painful, brutal shooting of Quintonio LeGrier, Bettie Jones, Laquan McDonald, and many, many others. They had never experienced a Good Friday service so real, so sad.
As She went inside of the store, her other friends stayed inside of the car talking about the service. After She left the store with her milk, she saw three cop cars surrounding her car with her friends being frisked for guns and drugs outside of the car. She came running, asking, “What is going on here?” The cop next to Her immediately took pepper spray and sprayed it in her eyes making her scream loudly! One of her friends was infuriated by this violent action and jumped on the cop’s back. Immediately after people heard what sounded like 25 gunshots at this woman, she fell to the ground. The others were beaten, thrown to the pavement, and handcuffed. Screaming and fear took over that parking lot. More police were called, and they came with lanterns and sprays and weapons. A group of white folks from the Protestant church nearby saw this whole scene and stood next to the police cars shocked as they watched it all unfold in front of their eyes. They tried to leave as soon as they could, but the police held them near the scene.
After She had regained some of her vision, She saw herself and her friends sitting against the wall of the corner store and asked: “Why are you harassing us? Why are you doing this?”
And they answered: “You were all looking for trouble.”
She said: “My people have always been in trouble in this country, since the arrival of our ancestors.” She asked again: “I don’t get it, why you stopping us? What you looking for? Black folk? We are here!”
When She said that they kicked her face and said: “Are you done? Shut up!” The police took them to the district and sanitized the scene.
They were thrown into a tiny cell and were denied a phone call or talking to anybody. An officer came to the cell and told them they were putting the neighborhood in danger. She said: “That’s what you say. We weren’t doing anything wrong.”
“Are you contesting me? Don’t you mouth off to me, girl.” asked the officer.
“Yes! You were not even there!”
But he replied: “This is what I have heard about you, and I trust the people saying it.”
She and her friends insisted, “Oh, other cops? You cannot trust them.”
The officer looked shocked and said: “We are the law and you are the lawbreakers.”
“No! I know my rights! This is not legal! Why are we here? Why? We were coming from church and stopped at the store and you killed our friend!”
“You don’t get it, you were looking for trouble. You need to watch your mouth now before you’re in more trouble.”
“No! We did nothing! You stopped us because we are black! There was a group of white folk talking about their Good Friday service and I talked to them inside of the store, they saw it all, go ask them!”
The officer replied: “We had our people asking them to tell us what they saw, but they said they didn’t see anything. We asked them three times, but they denied every time saying they didn’t see anything.”
“Why did they say that?” She asked still in deep shock. “Why are they hiding? Because we have been talking about how black people are treated in this country. You all are vultures!”
One of the police officers standing nearby smacked Her across the face, saying, “Is that how you answer the high officer?”
With blood dripping from her nose she replied: “If we have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if we have spoken truth, why do you hit me?”
A high officer came and asked what they did wrong and why they were there. Another cop said: “One of them tried to kill one of us, and we responded with appropriate force. If these women were not criminals, we would not have brought them here to you.” And the high officer said, “Aren’t you the Black Lives agitators people?
The women answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about us?”
And he replied: “I am not a black person am I? You have handed yourselves over to me. What have you done?”
“We have done nothing to be oppressed and lynched for the last 350 years along with the first nations for the last 500 years. We have been living in this country for all this time but still this country is not ours to live in peace.”
“So you think you are too much huh?” he asked despising Her.
“We are sons and daughters of people who resisted slavery and apartheid. And we live to testify to this truth: that you have systematically tried to erase us from this country with laws and economic moves against us, breaking our communities and now with incarceration. Everyone who belongs to the truth will listen to our voice.”
“What is truth?” the high officer asked, as he went out to wash his hands. He said: “You are talking about the past that all of us in this precinct have nothing to do with it. We are here to prove that all lives matter.”
Other people from nearby cells shouted saying the blacks were responsible for murders and unsafe social conditions in this country. “Put them into jail! We’d rather have them in jail than have them walking around our streets.”
She stood up in anger with the last of Her strength and said: “You know nothing,” and spit on the face of that man. Ten officers were called, and they took all the women out of jail and beat them mercilessly until they could barely breathe. The man She spat on shouted: “We have a law in this country, and according to that law you must die because you have claimed a humanity that doesn’t belong to you.” The officers asked: “Why do you want to provoke this country as we try to live in peace? Why are you trying to disturb and attack honest people when we are doing nothing against you? You brought this situation upon yourself. Why don’t you just accept and live in a non-violent way?” They didn’t answer. “Speak to me stupid women!” screamed the high officer.
They answered him, “You would have no power over us unless it has been given to you from your government; therefore, you are a continuation of this greater sin.”
For a moment, they wanted to release them, but all the officers said: “If you release these women, we will be called no friends of the governor. Everyone who claims to be against the governor sets themselves against the Law.”
They were brought to a larger cell, but they were in terrible condition. Some of the people in jail and some of the cops cried out, “Away with them! Get away with them!” Some of the other officers, however, were very disturbed by it all. As they were talking about what to do next, they heard each one of the women breathe their last breath.
Their bodies were handed to a place called The Place of the Lynched Bodies. There they crucified them and with them many others, on all sides, with other black people killed.
March 25, 2016