Wendell Griffen, the circuit judge and Baptist preacher, shares his Good Friday thoughts, including a fiery message for Governor Hutchinson, via his blog.

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Griffen writes that “Good Friday reminds us that religion, commerce, government, and culture are constantly tempted and threatened by notions of empire, including the myth of sanctified violence.”

The sanctioned violence that killed Jesus resulted in the recent slaying of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black father, brother, and grandson, by two Sacramento, California police officers. Stephon Clark was shot 20 times in the backyard of his grandmother’s home, where he lived until he was slain. He was given no medical attention for several minutes after he was gunned down. After being shot 20 times, Stephon Clark was handcuffed, but denied medical attention or assistance. Stephon Clark was mutilated so much from the gunshot wounds and two autopsy procedures that his family was forced to hold a closed casket funeral service.

If we do not connect Stephon Clark with Good Friday it is because we are somehow unable or unwilling to detect the similarity between the slaying of Jesus and the slaying of Stephon Clark, Alton Sterling, Philando Castille, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Jr., Amadou Diallo, Rekia Boyd, Tamir Rice, Eugene Ellison, and so many other black, brown, and poor white unarmed persons by the armed and militarized agents of political, commercial, religious, and cultural empire. If we do not connect the assassination of Dr. King with Good Friday, we are not likely to connect the slaughter of Stephon Clark and so many others with Good Friday. Like Jesus and Dr. King, people like Stephon Clark have been slain after being hounded, spied on, and threatened by armed and militarized agents of political, commercial, cultural, and religious empire. 

There’s much more in his post, including a sharp critique of the governor. Griffen criticizes “cultural hijackers” who honor Martin Luther King, Jr. (April 4, 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of his assassination) but “have spent their careers distancing themselves from or opposing Dr. King’s work of social justice.”

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Griffen questions the choice of Hutchinson as a keynote speaker at an April 4 event at the Capitol honoring King because of the governor’s association with Bob Jones University and the National Rifle Association, and his actions as the former chief of the Drug Enforcement Agency:

Given this history, Governor Hutchinson’s “keynote” address will amount to “re-assassination” of Dr. King’s memory when the governor pimps Dr. King’s moral authority on the steps of the Arkansas State Capitol on the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination. 

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