Suspicious Activity?

So Far to Go

 Just this past Sunday July 26 2015, we at St. Mary’s had a baptism. I felt so honored to have this opportunity and thinking of how we as a church family have an obligation to raise up this beautiful baby boy in God’s family of faith. Later that evening I opened my email and found this letter written by a dear friend, of her experience and pain just the day before. Over and over again the final question of our Baptismal Covenant that we recited earlier that day; “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?”, continued to ring loudly in my head. Our children’s lives matter and we have so far to go. Until we get there we must speak up and speak out so we can always confidently answer I will with God’s help. BCP pp 304-305 (ECUSA) No child should have this in their future to look forward to. The last time I checked, riding a bicycle while black is not a crime anywhere in this country! With permission I share this letter with you. After reading, it begs the question (among others): “Who’s guilty of suspicious activity?”

July 25, 2015

(Dear ARC Friend – This explains one of the reasons that our work is so very important to me. This is not 1960…we have power to make a change…our children must know that we fight for all of them.)

My fifteen year old African American sons were riding their bicycles with a friend in the Greens of Waynesboro Friday afternoon. The boys were videotaped and followed through your neighborhood for approximately ten minutes by a white woman with short dark brown/black hair who was driving a white SUV.

My sons are boy scouts who attend the Lawrenceville School and Friend’s Central. They have friends who live in the Greens of Waynesboro. They are actively involved in our church, and unlike many children their age, they opted to go swimming at a friend’s house and ride bikes (rather than play video games) that day.

As they were leaving your neighborhood two police cars stopped them because “suspicious” activity had been reported. Their information was taken and a police incident report was filed. When I heard about this I went to the police station and was told that there have been some burglaries in the area. The complainant was worried because she was going to be leaving town and the boys had on back packs (which contained their wet swim suits and towels).

But we all know that the real reason the call was made to the police was because they are black. I understand that there have been several recent burglaries in your community and everyone is on a heightened sense of alert because of that. However, I am grateful that Homa has agreed to share this letter with your community because I want you to understand the kind of heightened alert I am on every day and every time my sons leave the safety of their home.

To the woman who was following and videotaping my sons, you frightened my children. Not only did you scare them at the time, but you have permanently changed their sense of security in this world. Your racial profiling has damaged their spirits forever.

They have lived in this community their whole lives. We live in Berwyn Estates.  Please explain to me why my sons were so frightening and suspicious? Do you fear every child riding a bicycle in your community? Are backpacks the Berwyn equivalent of a hoodie? Please understand where my heightened alert comes from. Whatever you think of the Trayvon Martin verdict several things are clear. The young black man (who is now dead) was perceived as one who was “suspicious and did not belong in that community”. These are the words that you told to the police about my boys.

To the parents in the Greens at Waynesboro, how would you feel knowing that a stranger followed your children, terrified them and now has a video tape of them. How would you feel knowing that there is now a police incident report with your children’s names, address and birthdays permanently a part of an official record?  How would you feel if your children tell you now that they no longer feel comfortable going to their friends’ homes, or riding their bicycles? How would you feel knowing that the prejudice of one person has permanently adversely affected the way the child you love sees himself and the world?

My request to you all is that you try to see human beings NOT stereotypes.


Lord in your mercy,

Hear our prayer