Ferguson for the weekend, anyone?

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Originally published in The Huffington Post

ferguson protest hands up

Ferguson protestors raise hands in solidarity in Washington D.C. Credit: Creative Commons/ep_jhu

If you are one of tens of thousands of people who can’t stand to hear another story about another black man being shot by another policeman, you may want to go to Ferguson, Missouri this October 10-13. Your showing up may not stop the shooting(s), but at least it will let people know that you see. You hear. You notice.
If you can’t go to Ferguson or get to Ferguson, there’s nothing wrong with raising your hands in worship next weekend. Yup. Hands up. Hands over the head. Hands that know they know and know that others know and know that we know what we know. Congregations all over the country will wear a kind of hoodie this weekend. We will say that we know. We see.
As Martin Luther King Jr. once declared, we are, “convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.” On October 10-13, thousands will gather in Ferguson to vote non-cooperation with evil. We understand our moral obligation to do well, even if we know how to do nothing more than raise our hands.
On October 10-13, PICO, Congregations in Community Organization, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Sojourners, the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference and other faith partners, have again been invited to partner with the young people and clergy of Ferguson through supporting the Weekend of Resistance. Specifically, congregations are invited to observe the Hands Up Sabbath during their worship gatherings that weekend. Additionally, PICO clergy leaders are asked to participate in civil disobedience and a march on Monday, the 13th.
Why would you show up in Ferguson? If you have already been to the People’s Climate March and spent your protest time and money budget for the fall? Or attended an anti-fracking demonstration in your city or town? Or been to your state capital to protest an immoral budget? Or shown up at your local jail to protest solitary? Or registered voters in your local election? Or run out of stamps or clicks in writing your state legislators? Or Senators? Why not send the money to your national party of choice so they can get out the vote in November? Or go to Texas and find out what happened to all the abortion clinics? In other words how do you choose what to do when so much matters and so much is at stake?
Ferguson matters because force matters. Every time a policeman gets away with a murder, the courage to combat decreases. We get scared. We don’t show up. Similarly, every time more barricades go up in more streets to keep protesters from the constitutional right of free assembly, the courage to combat decreases. Protecting the fundamental right to walk in the streets – for black teenagers and for all Americans, of every stripe and kind – is crucial to democracy. Democracy does appear to be in tatters. Random violence keeps us home and passive. If you want to preserve the right to walk around in the streets, you might want to recognize that you too thought you lived in a free country. You too want to have police protection, not police fear.
If you can’t go to Ferguson or you can’t go to worship next weekend, at least you can raise your hands high right now. Wherever you are. Democracy will be reborn when we do what we can, where we are – and some of us are going to have to go way out of our way to preserve it.