The Sisters of Mercy denounce the extrajudicial killing by police of Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old Black man in Akron, Ohio, on June 27, and the mass shooting during the July 4 parade in Highland Park, Illinois, which left seven people dead and dozens critically injured. We offer prayers for the family and all who loved Jayland Walker, and for those whose lives were taken or whose bodies were injured, for their family and friends and the whole community of Highland Park.
Both incidents represent patterns of behavior and action that cannot continue to be commonplace, and none of us can become numb to their pain and the violence.
Excessive force by police against African American women and men that leads to their death is all too common. In the case of Jayland Walker, the video released by the Akron Police Department over the weekend captures the hunting pursuit of this young man by eight heavily armed police officers—a type of inhumanity toward humanity that escapes all rationale. This must have been utterly heartbreaking for his family to watch.
In addition, we grieve for the incident in Highland Park, the scene of yet another mass shooting. Lives were lost and many others changed because of ready access to automatic weapons and the absence of sensible, responsible gun reform. Our current federal legislation fails to protect society, and advocacy efforts to change this continue to fall on deaf ears. We must dispel the myth that “these kinds of killings only happen in certain neighborhoods”—mass shootings happen everywhere in this country, and we all have a responsibility to work for change.
As people of faith, we pray, not just prayers of grief and lament but prayers of strength and clarity to see real change.
Institute Leadership Team of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
Sister Patricia McDermott, President
Sister Patricia Flynn
Sister Judith Frikker
Sister Anne Marie Miller
Sister Áine O’Connor