Normally, I use this space to share personal family details, but this month I’m devoting it to Elijah McClain, a person who calls to me, and all of us, from “the margins” of our society and from the grave. George Floyd’s and Breonna Taylor’s names might be more well known nationwide, but the injustice of 23-year-old Elijah McClain’s death last August after a “suspicious person” encounter with nearby Aurora, Colo., police, and its subsequent mishandling by authorities, deserves just as much attention.
In my opinion, after reading extensively about the case and watching the stomach-turning video of McClain’s arrest — the police officers and paramedics involved should be forced to find other jobs, at minimum, if not be prosecuted for McClain’s death. Only in the last few days, after several million people signed a petition for the case to be reopened, have the police officers involved been “re-assigned” in a “non-enforcement capacity,” has the governor of Colorado assigned the state attorney general to investigate the case, and have the DOJ and the FBI begun to evaluate if a civil rights investigation is warranted.
I joined the thousands of people protesting at the Aurora municipal center last Saturday, because justice needs to be done for Elijah McClain and his family, and it needs to be seen to be done, because too many of our Black neighbors have been and continue to be similarly mistreated by those entrusted with the responsibility “to serve and protect.” I marched, too, because the district attorney who oversaw the initial investigation into Elijah McClain’s death is the DA of my “judicial district,” which includes Aurora and Broomfield.
I’m thankful that my hometown’s civic officials haven’t been silent in regard to these recent nationwide and local protests against police brutality and racism. Last month, I listened in during a Broomfield-wide phone “town hall” that featured helpful remarks from Mayor Pat Quinn, City Manager Jennifer Hoffman and Police Chief Gary Creager, along with community comments. And soon after the town hall, the Broomfield Police coordinated with organizers of a local “Solidarity Walk,” in which all six of us Dormishes peacefully marched alongside 600-1,000 others.
We have a long way to go. All of us. But at least the conversation has begun, and for the first time in my life, I don’t think it’s going to fade into the background until the next incident happens. At least, I’m committed to helping make sure that it doesn’t — for own personal integrity, for my family, for my church, for my community, for my state and for the nation that I love.
[I originally published this letter on July 1, 2020, in the “Dear Partner” section of my monthly newsletter.]