8th June.

The difficulty about commenting on demonstrators and the police is that it is never as simple as it seems. Back in the 70s when young and marching through Manchester against the National Front, it seemed absolutely clear that the police should be breaking up their marches not horse charging ours. (They quite possibly did both, but then we only saw it from one side, and we were obviously right in our own eyes.) On climate change demonstrations the vast majority of people are there for a good reason, but there are always anarchists (usually dressed in black so easy to spot) and others who have other, sometimes violent, agendas. Then there are others too in the recent marches who I am sure simply feel anger about not being heard. As for the police, like any group, priests included certainly, the majority are good and professional (and I have met many), but where you find bad apples, also sometimes, as in other professions, a station or body of people among them that has allowed a negative often defensive spirit to grow among them, which allows, for example, the behaviour of some of the police in Minneapolis to seem acceptable to that group. It is too easy then to see all police officers through the same light. Sometimes, I am sure, when faced with an angry crowd there must just be fear. George Floyd’s brother asked for peace. Certainly nothing constructive can be done in an atmosphere of bitterness and recrimination. But at the same time the peace has to be a just one. Silencing the streets but leaving the anger that led to the demonstrations (and riots in some places) unheard and unaddressed is not peace. Condemning all police officers will not help either. Courage is needed by all those who can influence this situation. We can all pray for all those involved, those who have the power to act. Pray for our society that it be one of equality and equal opportunity and especially hope. If we do not know how to pray, then St. Paul tells us that the Spirit will do so on our behalf if we ask.

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