Use Me Instead

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There is, it seems, grace in the world. Appalled at news that North Miami Beach Police were using photos of young black men for target practice and resolved to "put ourselves in the place of those whose humanity is denied," dozens of clergy and others have offered their own smiling, sacred pictures to police shooters with the hashtag #UseMeInstead.

The effort sprang from an online conversation between Rev. Joy M. Gonnerman and other pastors in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Facebook group about a police practice - now stopped - they saw as "emblematic of a deeper, systematic problem."  Motivated by "our service to Christ and his call to love our neighbors,” they decided "maybe we ought it make it harder to pull the trigger."

Scores of clergy and other concerned citizens have posted pictures on Twitter and Facebook, with comments to police ranging from concise - "Not cool" - to caustic - "Sorry I'm so pale" - to haunting: "For the love of God, use me instead" and "Inasmuch as you do it to the least of these..." Wrote Mike Kinman, Episcopal Dean of Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis, MO., "When you shoot at my sisters and brothers, you shoot at me... so please, if you must use pictures for target practice, use mine also.  I benefit from the racism in our system that oppresses and I must claim my own participation in this sin."

Janet Margaret sent a picture of herself from when she was about the age of Tamir Rice:  "I played outside as well, like most children that age do. I was raised Catholic but am agnostic. I don't think it matters what you believe in, or if you believe in anything at all. I do believe in justice." Some days, we do too.

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