Letters to the Editor

Churches need to combat stop-and-frisk


In response to your Aug. 14 editorial “Stop-and-frisk overreach”: The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America recently conducted its Churchwide Assembly in Pittsburgh. One evening, the voting members from northwest Ohio met at a restaurant. We were puzzled by the absence of one of our group, an African-American man.

I later learned that he had been stopped and frisked while walking to the restaurant. Because he had been raised during the apartheid regime in South Africa, the experience was devastating, complete with flashbacks.

My initial reaction was anger. How could such a thing happen to anyone who was simply walking to a restaurant? Then I learned about the stop-and-frisk policy that exists in Pittsburgh, New York City, and several other places.

Presumably, the policy is designed to make the streets safer for all. But what is the deeper impact of such a policy? What does it do to the hearts and souls of those who are stopped? What does it do to the core values upon which this nation presumably is based?

Solutions that are rooted in fear will not produce enduring change for the health of society. Given the tensions and violence that characterize a vast array of relationships in this nation, surely this must be a time for deep listening to those who are different from ourselves, and for personal and corporate discernment in what we hope for our life together.

My hope and prayer is that communities of faith will be part of this conversation. As a nation, we can and must do better.


Northwestern Ohio Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Sylvania