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Opinion

Our brother’s keeper

SoVaNow.com / January 14, 2016


Dear Viewpoint:

While many readily acknowledge there are scores of tough jobs to be done in today’s society, one of the more challenging career fields is that of being a police officer.

African Americans — particularly in tough neighborhoods — have a greater respect for the police than many others. In ANY neighborhood, the police are the first to be called to quell potentially ugly and dangerous situations.

From the outset, let me state categorically by no means am I or anyone that I know anti-police.

We view police officers as our friends who are charged by both citizens and taxpayers with the ultimate responsibility to “Protect and Serve” citizens and taxpayers in ALL communities.

Sadly, the Town of South Boston has recently made international news headlines resulting from actions by the South Boston Police Department.

In May 2013, Richmonder Linwood Lambert died while in the custody of the South Boston Police Department. Protect and Serve?

The records show that Tasers both in the ownership (purchased by taxpayer dollars) and possession of the South Boston Police Department were discharged an estimated 20 times during the incident with Mr. Lambert. Protect and Serve?

Mr. Lambert was tased a number of times, then literally hog-tied with metal shackles by several officers and slammed in the back of a South Boston Police Department cruiser rather being taken into the hospital doors to be checked out medically. Protect and Serve?

Taser manufacturer specifications clearly indicate that each taser shot carries 50,000 volts of electricity — 20 taser shots by the South Boston Police Department equals 1,000,000 volts of electricity hitting Mr. Lambert’s body. Just think about it, after 1,000,000 volts what would be the impact on YOUR heart and body? Protect and Serve?

Many reputable studies indicate multiple tasings (more that 3-4) too often can be fatal causing great harm to the victim. Protect and Serve?

Officials in South Boston withheld the video, records, and other information about South Boston Police Department’s interactions with Mr. Lambert in May 2013. Protect and Serve?

It was ONLY after Mr. Lambert’s family filed a civil lawsuit was this video released in November 2015 — 19 months after the incident. By hiding this information, what was then and is STILL being hidden by officials who are paid by citizens and taxpayers. Protect and Serve?

Given these initial facts, did the South Boston Police Department carefully discharge its solemn duty as mandated by citizens and taxpayers to Protect and Serve?

If a man obviously cries out for help and loudly begs officers “please don’t kill me” is then killed at the hands of the South Boston Police Department — are they doing their sworn duty to Protect and Serve?

Every child born yesterday, today and tomorrow is a precious gift from and a child of God no matter the situation in which they were born nor life’s circumstances. Along with ALL of us, Mr. Lambert and every one of the South Boston Police Department officers involved in the incident are ALL children of God.

From birth, many are literally taught Jesus was born, lived and was killed for our sins.

The Bible instructs us that throughout his adult life, Jesus wandered — some speculate over 21,000 miles — healing the sick, tending to the afflicted, ministering to the downtrodden and needy. To make the point very clear, not many can really imagine hoards of the rich in a line waiting to be fed by Jesus with two fish and five loaves of bread!

The Bible does not mention any situation where Jesus hung out with, socialized or was in the company of the comfortable, middle-class nor the wealth of that time. Most DO remember Jesus entering the temple of the money changers and causing a great ruckus — such is truly emblematic of his mission to only minister to the lost, the least and the needy!

The government and the wealthy were the anathema of the people, hated and seen literally as the enemy. Even today, has anything changed?

Mr. Lambert was a common man. Like so many others he was one with imperfections and the type of person Jesus would certainly have ministered to and assisted.

In the Town of South Boston, Mr. Lambert met his judge, jury and ostensibly executioner on a cool night in May 2013.

Sadly, Mr. Lambert is now dead and can’t speak for himself. His ONLY testimony is video footage of the incident that led to his death while in the custody of the South Boston Police Department.

This is the SAME video that has been in the hands of the South Boston Police Department, the Commonwealth’s Attorney, Town of South Boston officials along with many other law enforcement officials and governmental representatives across this the Commonwealth of Virginia and now based on public comments, some privileged citizens.

Only AFTER a civil suit was filed by Mr. Lambert’s family did this horrid video surface for the world to see how he was treated in the custody of the South Boston Police Department.

Many now seem to rail loudly about certain peaceable actions by Mr. Lambert’s family as they seek both answers about the situation and justice for their dear loved one no matter how imperfect he was in life — like most of us.

Can you imagine these same folk railing as a young, tenacious American people valiantly fought the Revolutionary War against the British demanding freedom from tyranny?

As was the case during the trial of Jesus, there were those who shouted “give us Barabbas.”

Interestingly, some today metaphorically use this same chant to protect the South Boston Police Department and many other police officers and police departments supporting their wrongs.

Jesus along with others were true leaders of compassion, love, morality and redemption. At the least, Mr. Lambert was a man whose soul may have needed redemption by the Almighty NOT at the hands of or to shouts of those symbolically demanding “give us Barabbas” as the system in Virginia weighs in the role of today’s version of Pontius Pilate.

Just think, as citizens of South Boston, Southside Virginia and the Commonwealth of Virginia, your son, daughter, brother, sister, relative, church member or friend could be the next Linwood Lambert!

In closing, the situation that resulted in Mr. Lambert’s death leads us to a very simple question: What Would Jesus Do?

Kevin L. Chandler


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