Bishop Donald Hilliard, Jr

I, like many Americans, have been appalled by the horrific images being broadcasted from the city of Baltimore these past few days. The violence that, just a few months ago, we saw play out on the streets of Ferguson, MO has now found a grander stage in a larger, more densely populated metropolis. It pains me to see so many of our young men and women on the streets wreaking havoc. However, just as I am horrified by the riotous acts of those on the street, I am equally appalled by the riotous conditions that led to their outbreak.

This latest round of rioting in our country took place in response to the death of another black man at the hands of those who have been charged with the responsibility to “protect and serve”. We still do not know exactly what led to the death of Freddie Gray because the truth has been hidden behind the large “blue veil” of secrecy.

When a young man dies in police custody and there are no answers, you can expect anger. I know that many are angry at the seemingly unnecessary death of another black young man. However, we must ensure that our righteous indignation does not devolve into riotous instigation. I join with the leaders of the faith community in Baltimore and around the nation urging for calm and peace in the streets. We cannot build toward progress if we continue to allow our burning anger to lead us to burn down our own communities.

Jesus says, “Be angry, but do not sin.” Anger is not a sin, but we cannot allow our anger to cause us to sin. Rioting, looting, and violence are sinful responses to our anger. We must engage in peaceful protest so that our voices are not drowned out by our vices. Let us continue to pray for Baltimore, for the family of Freddie Gray, and for the countless men and women who wear the uniform and faithfully protect the citizens of that great city.