A Message from President Newell Williams and Dean Michael Miller

October 14, 2019

The community at Brite Divinity School is dismayed by the violent killing of Atatiana Jefferson by a Fort Worth police officer over the weekend. We declare our solidarity with her family, friends and community who mourn her. Imagine the call of a concerned neighbor for a welfare check resulting in the death of a committed daughter caring for her mother’s home. This has certainly compounded the complicated emotions many still carry after the well-publicized trial of the Dallas officer for the killing of Botham Jean in his apartment.

While we pray for the peaceful address of this situation, we encourage appropriate outrage as persons press for a thorough investigation of this occurrence and a just outcome of that investigation.

As citizens of Fort Worth we cannot allow a situation to persist in which persons who have sworn to serve and protect the public do just the opposite.

Is it that our metroplex is hiring anxious, on-edge people to the police force? Does the perception that they will receive the benefit of the doubt lessen the sense of responsibility when some officers pursue their duties? Or is it that some members of the police force, like many other Americans, are trapped by a narrative which portrays Black people as innately dangerous and thus requiring excessive force to be kept in check?

We commend Mayor Betsy Price for her commitment to a thorough investigation of this police action by an independent body. If we allow demoralization and cynicism to accumulate among those who feel most vulnerable it will result in the rapid erosion of commitment to community cohesion and will eventually come to haunt those of us who may feel safe at this time. We challenge those in our community who view this occurrence as distant from them and thus not their business to take seriously the dictum that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.