Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the ELCA, has issued a statement on the June 27 killing of Jayland Walker by police. “Our prayers are with the family of Jayland Walker as they laid him to rest on Wednesday in Akron, Ohio, a place I know well and a community dear to my heart,” the statement read, in part. “We join all who gathered to mourn the brutal killing of their loved one. We remember also Daunte Wright, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile and Patrick Lyoya—just a handful of the multitude of other cases where a ‘routine’ traffic stop ended with the death of a Black person. As we mourn, remember and await justice, so also must we act.”

“We, as a church, must join in the call to reform our police forces to ensure that they not only continue to serve and protect but also serve everyone in our communities, regardless of skin color, ethnic background, gender identity, sexuality or creed,” the statement continued. “We call on the U.S. Senate, following the action already taken by the House, to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and for the enactment of similar police reform proposals under consideration at the state level, such as HB 1267, passed into law in 2021 in Washington state.

“Jayland Walker’s death could have been prevented if we had a police system that acted without prejudice in every instance, respecting each person’s dignity.”

The statement also linked to resources including the ELCA’s social statement on criminal justice, the ELCA document “Now Is the Time: A Study Guide for ELCA Declaration to People of African Descent,”  a statement from the Legal Defense Fund, and website for the organizations Mapping Police Violence and Campaign Zero.

Read the full statement.

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