• Press statement on the Medical Examiner’s report on Richard Davis’ Death

    April 1, 2016

    The Monroe County Medical Examiner’s report on the cause of Mr. Davis’ death places the responsibility solely on the Rochester Police Department and consequently the city of Rochester.

    Rev. Lewis Stewart, surrounded by supporters and family of Richard Davis, talks to the press

    Rev. Lewis Stewart talks to the press. Members of Richard Davis’ family are on his right.

    The use of tasers has been very controversial.  It has been touted as a non-lethal tool by law enforcement for subduing individuals, but in fact, it is a lethal weapon.

    Nationally, during this year there has been a total of 47 fatalities, to date, caused by the use of taser technology.

    When tasers were first introduced, it was thought they really could be used without causing any harm.  However, we know how deadly these electronic control weapons are when used on subjects with cocaine or alcohol in their blood, a predisposed heart condition and/or psychiatric issues.

    Moreover, if officers are untrained, and have not followed certain protocols, are uncertified or abusive, the use of these tasers may also result in death of the victim.

    In light of Mr. Davis’ demise as a result of the use of a taser, we call again for the following:

    • Make ample and judicious use of the Emotionally Disturbed Response Team especially when the subject is unarmed.
    • When the subject is unarmed, it is best to use de-escalation techniques. Bring in a negotiator contain the situation and save lives.
    • Provide for more officers to receive training when interacting with emotionally disturbed persons.

    Mr. Davis was unarmed.   He did not possess a firearm nor a knife.  Yet, 50,000 volts coursed through his body, shocking his heart and killing him.  His death is tragically typical for many other deaths following the use of a taser by the police.  Would it not have been more cautious for the officer to wait for backup and support instead of reacting aggressively?

    Mr. Davis is gone.  How do we obtain justice for him and his family?

    Clearly, the city and city officials are already siding with law enforcement.

    Certainly, the District Attorney is going to manipulate and guide the Grand Jury into a decision of no indictment against the police officer involved.  The decision has already been tainted.

    We have very little faith in a grand jury system which always sides with the police officers nearly 100% of the time, no matter how egregious some of these officers behavior may be.

    In the final analysis, we need an independent investigator from the State Attorney General’s office who will look into this case rationally and has no connection with the local police nor the District Attorney’s office.  We have placed a call and are awaiting a response.

    In conclusion, this specific case goes beyond just the police officer involved.  There is a larger picture.

    • A police culture which is always aggressive against people of color and mired in certain racial perceptions.
    • A system which develops new and sophisticated weaponry designed to incapacitate, disable and kill, and this weaponry is being used among communities of color. Many of these companies, such as Taser are solely about the profit margin.   They are no different than the gun manufacturers.
    • A grand jury, district attorney, law enforcement – judicial nexus which will always find in favor of the police against the victims of police aggressive force.

    Sandra Doorley and others are now engaging in splitting legal hairs between when is a homicide a homicide and when is a murder a murder.  They are playing fast and loosely with legalities instead of admitting the truth.

    This is emphatically hypocritical and ridiculous.  A man is dead, and the Medical Examiner ruled it as a homicide, a murder, a killing brought on by the use of a taser by a law enforcement officer.

    Don’t con us.  Don’t spit in my face and the face of this family and community and tell us it’s a spring rain.

    Admit that there is culpability on the part of the Rochester Police Department.  Be honest.

    The Police Executive Research Forum has stated in their guidelines about tasers:   “that tasers should not be seen as an all-purpose weapon that takes the place of de-escalation techniques.”

    We need to make a decision and decide what kind of society we desire to be.

    Thank you.

    Rev. Lewis Stewart

  • Bombings in Brussels

    Following the recent bombings in Brussels Belgium by ISIS terrorists, Donald Trump and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz have issued inflammatory diatribes that could potentially impact Muslim Americans in our nation.

    Ted Cruz called for Muslim-American neighborhoods to be patrolled by law enforcement and Republican Candidate Donald Trump proclaims that American mosques ought to be policed.

    These statements are reminders of what Adolph Hitler transformed into horrific policies against the Jews in Nazi Germany.

    These are the xenophobic rantings of demagogues who seek to stoke the fears of hyper Americans against Americans of a different religion who are citizens of the United States of America.

    These statements reek of the stench of fascism and racism and certainly play strongly among the racist and Islamaphobic elements in our society.

    The fallacies of their statements are the following:

    • There are no Muslim-American neighborhoods
    • Muslims are socially and ethnically diverse
    • American Muslims live and work as productive members of our society, in business, law enforcement, the military, education, lawyers and scientists, and loyal citizens of this nation
    • Cruz and Trump are definitely engaging in playing the RACE CARD and are talking about policing by and large, people of color
    • Any vote for Trump and Cruz is a vote for fascism, racism, and xenophobia, which may lead pogroms and deprivation of the citizens’ rights of Muslim Americans. We all know what happened to the Jews, gays, and others who did not fit the Aryan model of perfection.

    Therefore, we call upon the Monroe County Republican Committee and the New York State Republican Committee to denounce both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

    Also we call upon the members of the faith community to stand in solidarity with our American-Muslim brothers and sisters who through fear may be racially profiled and deprived of their civil rights.

    For further information, please contact Rev. Stewart at the UCLM office.

  • UCLM, and The Black Church: Call to Action

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    Reverend Lewis Stewart, UCLM President

    The Christian faith always gives rise to hope; a hope rooted in the foundation of the promises of God. The African American church historically embodied the hope in the future of God’s promises. The Black Church was born in protest against the forces of tyranny, and oppression which sought to destroy Black humanity.

    In the first quarter of the 21st century, the residual effects of slavery, Jim Crow laws and bigoted attitudes of many white americans have recently morphed into a climate of fear and policies which have infringed upon the rights of black people: Stop and Frisk laws the use of Stand Your Ground laws in the murder of a black youth, Travon Martin; the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the use of Voter Identification laws to suppress minority voting in demographically black majority election districts is both disturbing and offensive.

    The dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King and many other Civil Rights martyrs who have shed their blood in the struggle for human rights have yet to be realized.

    The crises which are manifested in black communities across America must also be confronted. The rampant upsurges in the Black-on-Black violence and crimes, the grave increase in AIDs and HIV, the extensive development in teenager pregnancy, the marked breakdown in family life, a double-digit unemployment rate, the concentration of poverty among urban minority populations a predominance of blacks incarcerated in American’s penal system, as well as a myriad of other social ills ranging from education to health issues calls for a unified black church to step into this morass of black human negation and embrace and proclaim the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus the Christ. The Church must bring the Good News to bear not only on the starving, thirsting, jobless, imprisoned, sick, poverty stricken and humiliated black community but also seek to turn upside-down from the bottom, the entrenched wealthy purveyors of oppressive political socio-economic, and educational policies, practices and legal renderings which obstructs the aspirations of the poor and the despised.

    The Black Church in particular is called to be prophetic and priestly, evangelical and celebratory.

    With the Black community in crisis, we can no longer adopt a quietistic and insular approach to the agonized suffering of our people. We must be obedient and serve Christ and not a secular culture ensconced in materialistic individualism and theological relativism.

    UCLM seeks to be obedient to the Lord of the Resurrection and the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we covenant together to engage in a dynamic spiritual-cultural struggle to save the souls of black people, to retake our communities from the dark and demonic socio-cultural forces of chaos which seek to assert itself against God’s Word.

    We proclaim that Jesus is Lord over every dimension of life in this world. Realizing that Jesus the Christ is Pantocrator; that is Lord of all, we therefore call upon churches in the community to unite around the divine power emanating from three trans-historical events: the Cross, the Resurrection and Pentecost.

    We call upon church leaders to join us in the following:

    • Pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to be manifested within us to end church divisiveness and to bring about a coalition of religious leaders to morally and spiritually uplift our community from the devastating social ills which impact our people through liberating faith, activism, partnerships and programs.

    • Seek to transform the moral climate in our community ad participate in the commencement of the eradication of crime, drug addiction, prostitution, teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, homicides and all other ills which hinder our people from reaching their full potential.

    • Challenge governmental policies and practices, whether local, state, or federal which create, foster, encourage and impose a bigoted climate, policies and laws, which negate the humanity of minorities. We will watch and observe that no one’s civil and human rights are violated.

    • Monitor and involve ourselves in our children’s education. Interact with youth, parents, educators and school administrators and school board commissioners to ensure that our youth will receive a quality education. We must invest in our children.

    • Encourage the economic development of the Black community. Advocate the implementation of job training programs to fit the technological needs of the 21st century. Develop partnerships with labor unions to ascertain that minorities are trained and hired for jobs.

    • To do all we can to strengthen family life. To promote in cooperation with social agencies, proper and timely intervention and prevention strategies to help in the survival of families. We will focus on the salvation of Black men and women knowing they are the keys to healthy family development.

    • To partner with health professionals and medical entities to develop strategies of health awareness education, prevention and intervention in the community.

    • Implement non-partisan voter registration and education projects to develop political awareness. • Ensure the fair treatment of African-Americans in the criminal, justice and penal system.

    • Establish an academy or institute to train and develop leaders in the community. Such an institute would insure a resource of leadership trained in theology, biblical and African-American histories, politics and community development.

    UCLM will partner with religious leaders, educators, businesses, health providers, labor unions, political and government officials to assist in the survival and robust growth of the community.

    UCLM is committed to God’s messianic history of salvation and liberation. Liberating faith has to do with taking back our community from the fierce demonic strongholds which oppress it.

    These strongholds must be overcome and dismantled through the church’s courageous witness centered in the Cross of Jesus and His Resurrection. The strongholds are destroyed by the Christian witness to the Lordship of Jesus not in the insular four walls of the church building but in the world, in the community where people are also in pain and sin in need of redemption.

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