What Jesus Would Say About Violence Against Black People

How is fighting for our rights in line with the Word of God? What is God’s view on police brutalizing and oppressing Black people? Today, we find out from Man of God, Rev. Dr. Samuel Cruz.

Rev. Dr. Samuel Cruz is an activist for racial equality and LGBT rights. He is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church and a professor at Union Theological Seminary. He has recently been advocating for civil rights for the LGBT community, is a staunch critic of the “Stop and Frisk” police practices which were mostly focused on Black people and other minority groups, and also a huge opposition to the prison industrial complex.

To find out God’s views on the brutalization of Black people by the police and how fighting for our rights is in line with God’s word, we talked to Rev. Dr. Cruz.

blackmattersus.com
First of all, could you please tell us, what inspired you to become a pastor? When did you realize that you want to serve God and people?
Samuel Cruz
I grew up in church all my life and my father was a preacher. I wanted to be involved in church work but I resisted becoming a pastor until the year 2000. I had studied at seminary, but I didn’t want to really do church work. But in 2000, I realized that that was my calling and ever since, I’ve been doing pastoral work. I’m also a professor at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York.
blackmattersus.com
What sort of people come to your church?
Samuel Cruz
It’s a cross-section of people. The biggest group is Latino, but we have people from all over the Caribbean and all over Latin America, we have Norwegians, and also people from other parts of the country and the world. We have at least 15 to 17 countries represented from Latin America alone. We have working class people, and people who are professionals, lawyers, doctors, but the majority of them are in the working class.
blackmattersus.com
So what exactly is your message? What do you want people to pay attention to when you are giving your sermons?
Samuel Cruz
My message is that Jesus was revolutionary, he wanted liberation for the oppressed. And his message was about liberation for the poor, the marginalized, the imprisoned and also those who are pushed aside because of their gender or sexual orientation.
blackmattersus.com
Do you touch the topic of racism during your sermons?
Samuel Cruz
Definitely. We speak about race, police brutality, anti-LGBT – we condemn those who don’t want to include our LGBT community in talks – and we condemn poverty and also the many social injustices that take place.
blackmattersus.com
We’ve noticed that you tweet a lot about police brutality and the way police treat people of color. Is it because of something you’ve personally experienced? Have any of your close friends and relatives been subject to police brutality?
Samuel Cruz
Well, I’ve seen how people from my congregation have been mistreated by police officers throughout the country. I myself haven’t been brutalized in that sense, but I’ve been treated with disrespect when I didn’t deserve it. I feel that the police are constantly treating people of color like they’re worthless or less than human and I see so many young and elderly people being harassed, brutalized and dehumanized by police. I’ve seen them being pushed against walls, being treated as if they’re criminals and that type of behavior. It’s an epidemic in our country, and I see what has happened with the death of so many Black, Latino and Asian folks at the hands of police. It’s intolerable and unacceptable at this point.
blackmattersus.com
So your activism is based on the experiences of members of your congregation.
Samuel Cruz
Yes, members of the congregation, my family and my own experiences. I haven’t been brutalized like some people have been, but I’ve been treated as if I’m not worthy of respect by the police department.
blackmattersus.com
That’s very touching. Do you think policing has become a problem in recent years?
Samuel Cruz
Well, I think we know the problem more now, but it’s been around forever. People of color and poor people have been mistreated by the police for a hundred years. The issue is that, now with all these cameras, we can prove it, even though quite often, proving it doesn’t really change people’s minds, because I don’t understand how a great majority of white people still don’t want to accept that there’s mistreatment of people of color. With the majority of Black individuals who have been killed by the police, it has been proven that they were really doing nothing. And we chunk it up to a mistake. “Oh, it was a split second decision that the officer had to make!” Well, that split second decision has ended up in the killing of innocent people. And white people – not all, but many – feel that that’s okay. They don’t have a problem with that but I do. Those are human beings, those are the sons, daughters and fathers of many people. And it’s intolerable, I’ll no longer tolerate it and I think this country should not tolerate it. I think we should continue to protest until there’s real change.
blackmattersus.com
Do you encourage people to continue to protest and keep fighting for their rights?
Samuel Cruz
I encourage people to keep protesting and fighting for their rights and I encourage people not to be deceived by the media which is trying to distract us, because the 5 police officers that were assassinated, we certainly feel and hurt for their families. But that cannot distract us from the real point which is that there’s police brutality taking place.
blackmattersus.com
And how is fighting for our rights in line with the teachings of the Bible?
Samuel Cruz
Jesus spent his whole life fighting for justice, fighting for the rights of the needy. Jesus himself was executed because he fought for the rights of the most needy around him. Just as Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were executed for fighting for justice. Just as Pedro Albizu Campos, the great revolutionary from Puerto Rico was imprisoned and killed for fighting for justice. Fighting for our rights is certainly in line with God’s law.
blackmattersus.com
What do you think is God’s stance on policemen brutalizing and oppressing Black people?
Samuel Cruz
I think that if Jesus was here, he would be condemning them and saying that they’re wrong, they’re murderers and assassins. There’s no other way.
blackmattersus.com
Have you personally taken part in any protests?
Samuel Cruz
Yes, many times in New York City.
blackmattersus.com
Thank you! We are waiting to meet you there!













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