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To the Bradford Community Church Unitarian Universalist - Kenosha, Wisconsin

On behalf of the Lakeshore Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Manitowoc, WI, I condemn and mourn with you the continuing official violence against black lives in our country and our state and are horrified at the recent assault by police on Jacob Blake in your city of Kenosha, for whose life we join you in praying.

We stand with you and those who sought once again to shine a light on this continuing injustice through peaceful protest, and we are pained by the dreadful violence that has erupted in the last few nights. Like you, we do not condone violence as a response to violence. But we recognize that, in addition to anger and frustration, this turn is a measure of the deep despair underlying both those emotions, of the continuing devaluation of our black and brown neighbors within our communities, of generations living with the knowledge that their lives, their safety, their wellbeing just don’t seem to matter, indeed that they can be turned into targets again and again of racist political rhetoric. It is certainly also possible that the protests drew outsiders to your city, just as we have seen in Portland and other areas, who have exacerbated tensions and often sparked violence. The work to find avenues that lead to repair and reconciliation will be long and difficult, but it is so very urgent.

We are relieved that your building largely escaped the flames next door. I personally remember the building well and the UU community that included my husband and me in 1996 when we spent a year living just south of Kenosha. You are so needed by your community, especially now. This is a time that challenges us as Unitarian Universalists to live our faith in public, to stand with those in our communities whose worth and dignity are under attack, who continue to be targets of official violence and injustice, who despair and feel ground down by what must seem, after so many decades, to be fruitless and endless efforts to be treated with the respect that should have been their birthright.

May we go forth in love, together, now to repair our broken world and work to build the Beloved Community.

Yours in solidarity,

Erica Strauss, President

Lakeshore Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Response from Bradford Community UU, Kenosha regarding the shooting of Jacob Blake, from the Bradford Community UU Rev. Erik David Carlson --

To the community of Kenosha and beyond:

We, the members and clergy of Bradford Community Church Unitarian Universalist, are outraged at the violence perpetuated in the name of law enforcement on our people of color throughout our nation’s history and yesterday in Kenosha in the case of Jacob Blake for whose life we now pray.

Despite the fact that we cannot condone violent response to injustice, we understand and appreciate the anger and frustration that fueled the events of last night. While we are relieved that our church home mostly survived the inferno in the lot next door, we affirm that we would rather lose 100 buildings than one more life to police violence.

Some folks have already commented that our decision to display “Black Lives Matter” on our road sign in some way contributed to the fire or that our support of the BLM movement is hypocritical or “un-Christian.” Indeed, all lives do matter to us (that’s what “Universalist” means), but given the overwhelming and disproportionate injustice suffered by Americans of color we are compelled by our faith to speak up and affirm that Black Lives Matter too.

If this is not your faith, so be it, but it is most certainly ours and we ask that all folks be respectful in honoring our sacred calling to speak truth to power, protect the innocent, empower the disenfranchised and promote equity and compassion in human relations.

In the name of Love,

Rev. Erik David Carlson

On Behalf of Bradford Community Church Unitarian Universalist, Kenosha

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