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justice

We can’t exegete our way to justice because exegesis is an appeal to revelation, and revelation is inseparable from reconciliation. Without reconciliation, revelation cannot be seen or heard or understood. Without justice, we’re not reading the same book

If the litmus test for one’s fidelity to YHWH is embodying justice then the United States falls short of truly being a “Spirit filled nation.” Rather, the U.S., as well as the majority of churches located in the U.S., seem to be perfectly content to sit idly by while the innocent are taken advantage of by the powerful. But it can’t really be that bad, can it be? It’s pretty bad when corporations are treated like people yet these same corporations conveniently figure out ways to avoid extending the same favor to their sweat shop workers throughout the globe.1 It’s pretty bad when the U.S. military budget exceeds ten other nations combined. It’s pretty bad when there are more African American’s under correctional control today then there were slaves in 1850. It’s pretty bad when the U.S. affirms and promotes an adversarial posture towards “illegals” and “Jihadists.” It’s pretty bad when U.S. churches rally together to protest the possibility of their favorite “Christian” fast food place losing capital, but balk at criticizing the ungodly economic disparity between the rich and the poor. God Bless America

Our Government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the Government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the end justifies the means — to declare that the Government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal — would bring terrible retribution. Louis Brandeis

The criminal justice system in the United States can be said to be doing much of the lynching today, in a new form. In the 1930’s, the American government decided to clamp down on public lynchings as being outside the law. When law enforcement officers had to confront an angry crowd that wanted to lynch a black person, they would tell the crowd not to lynch the prisoner directly. Instead, they told them to take him to court and lynch him there, using the death penalty. In the courtroom, the judges and juries were white. Blacks were excluded from juries and had few resources to defend themselves against either white mob violence or the violence of the criminal justice system. Whites could disregard the black insistence on equal justice because it was their court, and there would be a quick trial that would end in execution. Many scholars call that legal lynching. Today, the number of incarcerated black people is far out of proportion to their numbers in the population as a whole. Then there are the drug penalties like the mandatory minimum drug laws created, in my opinion, especially for blacks, with harsher penalties for those convicted of crack cocaine sale or possession than for powdered cocaine, which is preferred by white addicts. There can be no equal justice until a black life is worth the same as a white life. James Cone

The movement of low-wage workers for decent pay and working conditions is partly a reflection of America’s emerging low-wage economy. While low-wage industries such as retail and restaurant accounted for 22 percent of the jobs lost in the Great Recession, they’ve generated 44 percent of the jobs added since then, according to a recent report from the National Employment Law Project. But the movement is also a moral struggle for decency and respect, and full participation in our economy and society. In these ways, it’s the civil rights struggle of our time. Robert Reich

In 1957 when Governor Faubus of Arkansas refused to desegregate the schools in Little Rock, if President Eisenhower with all his enormous prestige had personally led a black child up the steps to where the authorities were blocking the school entrance, it might have been one of the great moments in history. It is heartbreaking to think of the opportunity missed. Frederick Buechner

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For more than a decade, researchers across multiple disciplines have been issuing reports on the widespread societal and economic damage caused by America’s now-40-year experiment in locking up vast numbers of its citizens. If there is any remaining disagreement about the destructiveness of this experiment, it mirrors the so-called debate over climate change. In both cases, overwhelming evidence shows a crisis that threatens society as a whole. In both cases, those who study the problem have called for immediate correction. Several recent reports provide some of the most comprehensive and compelling proof yet that the United States “has gone past the point where the numbers of people in prison can be justified by social benefits,” and that mass incarceration itself is “a source of injustice.” End Mass Incarceration Now

We can talk about movement theory all we want. We can read Michel Foucault or Pierre Bourdieu, but at a certain point it becomes a game. You have to get out and live it. You have to actually build a movement. And if we don’t get to work to build a movement now there will be no one studying movement theory in a decade because there will be no movements. I can do this in prison. I can do this out of prison. It is all one struggle. Cecily McMillan

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Pretend you have to choose a book: one is a lurid airport paperback written for people who don’t like to read, the story of a bad girl getting taken down a peg; the other is missing half its pages and it has a lot of footnotes. You’d choose the first book, whatever its faults—you can’t even tell what the second one’s about. This was essentially the choice presented to the jury of Cecily McMillan’s trial by the rulings of Judge Ronald Zweibel. In a fair trial, the jury must consider two full texts and answer a reading comprehension question: In this case, is there any reasonable doubt that McMillan intentionally assaulted a police officer for the purpose of preventing him from performing his duties? But when the jury convicted McMillan on May 5, they had really been given only one side of the story. Editors Don’t Belong in Courtrooms, and Cecily McMillan Doesn’t Belong in Prison

McMillan’s case is emblematic of the nationwide judicial persecution of activists, a persecution familiar to poor people of color. Her case stands in contrast with the blanket impunity given to the criminals of Wall Street. Some 8,000 nonviolent Occupy protesters have been arrested. Not one banker or investor has gone to jail for causing the 2008 financial meltdown. The disparity of justice mirrors the disparity in incomes and the disparity in power. They Can’t Outlaw the Revolution

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It’s all out in the open here. The cruelty of power can’t hide like it does on the outside. You get America, everything America has become, especially for poor people of color in prison. My lawyers think I will get two years. But two years is nothing compared to what these women, who never went to trial, never had the possibility of a trial with adequate legal representation, face. There are women in my dorm who, because they have such a poor command of English, do not even understand their charges. I spent a lot of time trying to explain the charges to them. Cecily McMillan

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