Statement on Police Reform in Albany, NY

May 20, 2021

Approved by the Session of the Westminster Presbyterian Church on May 12, 2021

Last summer, we were reminded of the following difficult truths in ,the statement of solidarity issued by the Westminster Session: “Too long have we endured the evils of racism and the sin of white supremacy. Too long have we feared angering the powerful, avoided the conflict, sought to weather the storm around us by treading the surface of these waters.”

In examining our complacency in participating in systems of injustice (Mathew 21:12-13), we are now called to turn our attention to our home city and the widespread cry throughout Albany for police reform and a ban on tear gas and rubber bullets- especially in the wake of the violent clearing of the Arch St. protestors on April 22 and the alarming practice of Albany police officers of concealing their names and badges from the public, as witnessed by our own church members.

We demand at this time much more for our children and youth members- and for the families that love them. We demand a respect for their right to grow up without fear for their lives, without the trauma of being exposed to chemical weapons and automatic munitions, and with full confidence in their constitutional rights to free speech and protest.

We also specifically call for the following actions to be taken immediately for the public health and safety of our congregation and the wider population of the city of Albany and its visitors:

  1. The use of chemical weapons and automatic munitions, such as tear gas, bear mace, and rubber bullets, must be banned without amendments in the City of Albany. A vote on Local Law C should be taken as soon as possible by the Albany City Common Council and signed into law by the Mayor of Albany.

We call on our city leaders to listen and act – to boldly call in new ways of being and new roads to justice (John 13:35). And we call on our congregation to persist in our efforts to call out the racial injustices in our everyday lives, and provide the solidarity needed right here, in our own backyards.

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