The GTU Cries Out for Justice

A statement from President Riess Potterveld

December 11, 2014

In the last week people have taken to the streets across the nation to protest against repeated incidents of unarmed black and brown citizens being killed by police officers. This injustice within our law-enforcement and legal system has triggered personal and public pain, indignation, and a nationwide call for accountability. Members of the Graduate Theological Union community, including faculty, students, staff, and alumni, have been among the thousands here in Berkeley who have lifted their voices and engaged in nonviolent protests to call public attention to the destructive impact of racism within the criminal justice system and in our larger society.

We recognize that our educational institutions are certainly not without fault and face their own necessity to address and dismantle racism. But if educational and religious leaders remain silent in the face of these killings, our silence will only contribute to the perpetuation of belief systems and behaviors that need to be rooted out and eliminated in a society that truly reveres fairness, justice, and equality as sacred values. 
The GTU believes it is essential that issues of racism, violence, and injustice within the legal system be addressed in classroom discussions, pulpits, scholarship, and social media. But this is a moment when we must also register publicly our disdain for lethal actions directed against unarmed citizens by legal authorities.
While engaged in peaceful protests for the past several nights, two members of the faculty and fifteen students of GTU member schools were arrested. We celebrate the courage and willingness of these members of our community to endure risk for the sake of their witness. The GTU joins its voice with that of the many individuals—both inside and outside our community—who are calling for an end to such injustice and violence. 
Below you will find links to a sampling of the responses and reflections of GTU administrators, faculty, students, and alumni—some of whom have made statements on their school’s websites or other social media platforms, and some of whom have been on the streets participating in peaceful protests. I acknowledge that this is a selected list, and that many other voices from within the GTU community have been and will continue to be raised. 

Pacific School of Religion has also written this story on the protest-related arrests of students and faculty from GTU schools, which includes additional links.

Update: December 17, 2014--GTU students and faculty arrested on December 8 have written an open letter to the community.