By Elder Esau Vance, Senior Pastor of Mt. Olive Church & WBCA President
As I reflected back over the last seven weeks of this [Worcester police] clergy academy class I am convinced more than ever that it is going to take a total commitment on the part of the city’s officials, the police and the community to create a safe and thriving city that we can all be proud to live in.
But in order to achieve this safe and welcoming environment, everyone must step up to the plate and stand for righteousness, justice and equality for every citizen living in our city of Worcester. And we must become one city that sits on a hill and not two fragmented cities which are limping toward destruction. You see, a house that is divided against itself will surely fall.
And we must not continue to blame the police for an increase in drug use and distribution and related crimes; and when there is a drug related death or crime. We keep our lips closed and refuse to share the needed information with the police for them to bring the criminals to justice.
Likewise, we cannot expect the police to do their job of maintaining peace and order if the only thing we can say about them is that they are all ROGUE COPS. And we cannot ask them to protect our families and homes if we refuse to do our part in policing and protecting our own neighborhoods.
And we must do everything we can to help see to it that every officer gets a chance to go home to his or her families at the end of the day.
I paid close attention to the instructions that the officers shared with us during the seven weeks of classes. And I discovered that what we see in a 30 second news flash by the media is not always reality.
I also learned that although an alleged criminal may not have a weapon on his person, that when he comes within a certain distance of a police officer who does have weapons, that he is also no longer consider to be unarmed, according to police procedures.
Therefore, if we allow citizen apathy to cause us to stand idle and leave the safety and security of 180,000 people in our city to 400 police officers alone, I believe that we will live to regret such a decision.
And so every individual must work with city officials and the police in order to create a city where we can all live in peace and harmony.
The task of protecting our city must be a shared responsibility for every concerned citizen.
However, continuous finger pointing and divisiveness will not solve our problems; it going to take prayer, trust, and mutual respect for one another.
And we will never be able to move forward as a city as long as we are bent on living in the past and dwelling on past mistrusts. And Dr. King was right when he said that we must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools. And as concerned citizens let us encourage our young men and women to comply with the order of the police officer when requested to do so.
And trust me, I am not under any illusion about race relations, gender bias and religious discrimination, but I have hope and faith that in spite of ourselves, that God will help us to find a way to save our city, our union and our country.
And we all have our work cut out for us: the police, city officials, as well as every citizen in the city of Worcester. You see, I heard the call of several officers asking the clergy and the community to join forces with them to make our city a safer and better place for everyone. And I heard them when they said that they cannot do this job alone. I also heard the officers when they said that they too have some house cleaning to do in weeding out a small number of bad apples among their ranks.
Finally, I heard them when they said that, “all lives matter” – black, white, red, brown, yellow!
Yes, all lives do matter, and that includes the policeman who walks or rides his beat, the young black and white men and women who drive and walk the streets of our city. It also includes every other individual who lives within the boundaries of our great city. You see, all lives are precious in God’s sight because we were all made in His image and likeness.
In closing, I want to challenge everyone here tonight and those who took the class to get the word out to the community from the pulpits, the dinner table conversations, and from our social gatherings that we will work together and rise together, as this city’s greatest moments of achievements are yet to come.